Who are the ‘right’ kind of people?

16 June, 2009

Part two in my ‘Getting an online community off the ground’ series. Today I’ll look at People.

Yesterday I discussed identifying the purpose for an online community. This is a vital step that will prove to be extraordinarily helpful when it comes to finding the right people to get the community up and running.

But who are the right people?

On the surface the answer to this question is pretty simple, probably something like:

“I want to engage anyone who has an interest in X and Y”

Just like yesterday’s example of a description of a community’s purpose, this  answer is very broad, as a result it will not be much of a help when it comes to building a community, the answer we’ll want to come up with is something along the lines of

“I want to engage with a group of people with a passion for X and Y, people who are looking for others with a common interest to chat with.”

On first glance these two statements may appear to be similar, but there are important differences. The first statement describes the  group of people that are interested in a topic but are not necessarily committed to it and may or may not put any time into it. We would probably target this broader group once the community has been up and running for a while. Many of these people will become great community members but the strike rate will to be low.  If we take a quick look at the 90 – 9 – 1 rule that I blogged about last year,  only 1 out of every hundred site visitors will likely become active contributors, 9 will occasionally comment if something really grabs their attention and 90 will have a look around but keep to themselves.

The second statement describes the group that are the top 1%. These  people are already talking about the topic, they are highly engaged and are looking for new places to talk. If we can manage to bring a bunch of these people together and give them some interesting stuff to do or talk about, we’ll have gone a long way to getting the community up and running.

The next question is how we bring them together, I’ll discuss that in the my next post tomorrow!


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