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How to build a startup community?

startup community meme

Community building is trending. Nowadays, the demand to grow a startup community is higher than ever. We will tell you how.

Moreover, in a product development process, idea validation is the key to make your users happy. Therefore, once they are satisfied — you get a loyal audience. Integrating customer feedback  in that process helps startups build way better products and avoid common mistakes.

#buildinpublic — a new trend in Digital Marketing, launched by indie founders to bring more attention by showcasing the insights of their startup journeys.

You can see it live on https://buildinpublic.com/

All of this is insanely important for early-stage founders that are trying to launch their next big thing & succeed.

  • But can we really build a startup community around that? 
  • And how can we grow it?

Interested? Read below 👇

Community vs Audience

The same as in programming, it is important which way information moves from A to B. It has a big impact on the way you build your product.

In the real world, we can see that the majority of the projects/startups/companies use email newsletterstelegram channels, publish press releases to deliver project news This way only you can deliver information to people who follow you — you call it “audience”.

On the other hand, small startup communities tend to use Discord, Projectium, Reddit, or Twitter … In Twitter or Projectium, it is more likely you get a reply. Other people will see that discussion thread and will join it to share their ideas, vision, or pain points. Turns out, that’s the main difference. This is how you build a “community”.

Your audience is who you talk to.

Your community is who talks to you.

– Stephanie Baiocchi

Project community examples

Communication between a project team and users is critical for technical products that require preliminary knowledge and good skills to being used.

Example 1: Framer community

An excellent example of a well-organized community around startup is Framer’s Discord server.

You might know Framer as a design, prototyping, and developer handoff tool. Designs created in Framer are powered by the React framework. Users can export front-end code for use in production apps.

Framer Discord community
Framer Discord community

Based on the fact that Framer is a technical product that requires certain knowledge, the main goal of a startup community is to exchange customer feedback.

 

Example 2: Reactiflux

Another good example is Reactiflux.  All the technologies they mentioned are a part of one big environment, and the people there are highly connected.

In that case, the key to success hides in an event-driven approach, they invite top developers, industry leaders to a QA session where they can exchange knowledge about technologies and community members can ask questions in real-time.

Reactiflux members asking questions to Eve Porcello (JS, GraphQL, React expert)
Reactiflux members asking questions to Eve Porcello (JS, GraphQL, React expert)

Members know that they have a great opportunity to learn from technology creators, they get information about upcoming conferences, meetups. Even more important — they can exchange experience and empower the product or technology with their creations.

So, how do you start a new community? (from 0 to 25K members?)

A startup community from scratch

You can find many articles about how to build a community, like this one (or this one). They might be helpful if you have plenty of resources, money & time. What happens if  you don’t? In case you have limited resources just as Projectium does, you should focus on the best-working solutions and don’t waste your time…

You need people who will support you.

After that you need to find people who don’t and make them support you.

Notably, your desired startup community consists of several groups of people that are more or less likely to join you. It depends on how much they need from you & how much can you give them back.

Groups of people

1. “Friends & Followers”

— the first & the most attainable group of people on the list. We talk about people who already know about you. Asking them to join discussions about your projects is the best idea you can do when you just start building a community. The people will re-share your news, propose new ideas, and help you scale your community.

 Approximate project community size at the stage: 40–100 members

2. “Target users & Early adopters”

— second group in the list. When you create a project, you make it for someone. If you know about your target audience — then you might know what websites / social media they use. Ask them to review your product, track visitors to your landing page, collect emails.

Approximate project community size at the stage: 100–600 members

3. “Thematic audience”

— Let’s imagine you’re building a VR game with an open world and some cool story. Then you might want to target people who are interested in VR or Games. Here you say that your cool story might be as exciting as a science fiction book — then you might also want to target a science fiction community.

Approximate project community size at the stage: 600–4000 members

4. “Organizations”

— At some point, you start gaining traction and become noticeable, you might want to partner with other similar communities, and some of them have common goals, or they just support startups like yours.

Approximate project community size at the stage: 4000–8000 members

5. “Media audience”

— They are less active in social media, thematic communities than other groups described above. These people only follow some well-known media like The Verge, TechCrunch, New York Times, Forbes, and so on… However, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about your project. Some of them simply would like to know more about it and might join a more active play in the future.

Approximate project community size at the stage: 8000–25000 members

How to grow a startup community

(Tips & hacks.)

Acquisition & Activation—  two big words that we have in startup community marketing. They describe the shortest path to attract and convert a new audience into your community members.

We’ll cover how they work & hints that you can start using already in order to build a strong community that is prepossessed to your vision, mission, and values.

Customer Acquisition

Obviously, the best way to build a good acquisition process is to start thinking the same way your target audience does (where should they go to find you?). For example, you could try to assume that when they open Google Search — they type a certain phrase to find your product.

There are easier ways to target an audience if you’re just starting, you can use specialized platforms that help you promote relevant content and get customer feedback:

For startups:
  • Reddit — “the front page of the web”, Reddit, is a lot of communities that share similar interests. you can find dozens of subreddits where to post
  • IndieHackers — a community of startup founders and growth hackers who share their success stories while build in public.
  • HackerNews — A news board ran by YCombinator combining audience interested in startups, tech news, Github projects, tutorials, and pretty much anything else (you can find a lot there).
  • Projectium.Network — Building startup communities in a more engaging and interactive way. A place where founders can collect feedback and find prospects by sharing regular project news.
  • Quora — Business, marketing, and other questions. If your product or a startup community has an answer — you should try it!
  • Twitter & Linkedin — We should never forget that social media and  content are important.
For open-source projects:
  • EchoJS– One of my favorite pages for Javascript News
  • Stackoverflow — A must-have for every developer, where you can suggest your own open-source solution to anyone.
  • Programming Reddit communities

Advice: Promote a value in that community, not a product itself.

Activation

As a result, your goal is now to convert visitors into active community members.

Therefore, you have to build a solid activation flow that will help your users to:

  • learn about your product
  • understand the value of your offerings
  • meet other community members
  • learn what interests they share with that community

First Trick: One of the most common tricks that work well is a sort of a greeting message that welcomes a newcomer and provides him all the important information that answers topics as described above in the list.

greeting message example
Trick #1 (greeting message) example.

Second Trick: You might need to collect more information from visitors that can also help you navigate them inside your startup community . That can usually be made via bots in Discord, but requires some more effort than Trick #1.

Where to keep a startup community

Twitter. (link)

One of the biggest PROS of Twitter is that while being a Social Network for everyone it has a lot of startup enthusiasts, early-stage founders who actively engage and support each other. It also has a desired startup community effect, while you don’t have a single page where you can showcase everything like on a landing page, but you can create discussion threads that will get attention from users and founders.

Available on Web, iOS & Android

Twitter

Projectium. (project community platform – link)

In fact, a rising network for early-stage founders that has community threads — a power of users who can share customer feedback about a project (or just share ideas) directly on a project page.

You can also search for specific startups or see what’s trending in your startup community.

Ideally, that works like a Twitter but is way more suitable for new projects that have to grab your attention by telling about the project in a story.

Available on Web and iOS

https://projectium.network/

Discord. (link)

Started as an alternative to TeamSpeak (a videogames voice chat) discord is now in charge of the biggest tech, dev, and business communities.

Another strong tool for moderating big startup communities that share similar interests or just discuss fun stuff.

Available on Web, iOS & Android

Discord

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Read about 5 ways to validate your startup idea without even leaving your home.

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