Come for the community, stay for the Community Cam

Feb 24, 2022 3 min read
Come for the community, stay for the Community Cam

I started The Indiependent community recently. It's still early days yet, we are six weeks in, but signs are positive with most conversations starting without any input from me. This feels like such a blessing!

One thing I've been thinking about in terms of tactical strategies and mental models — how can we replicate what already exists and is successful out there and bring it into our communities? What is it people spend their time doing naturally?

Creating a Community Cam

For example, one such example is Instagram, where people share photo and videos of their lives. At the heart of Instagram are people visually sharing parts of who they are. People are naturally curious about other people's lives.

It's proven people are happy to share photos and videos — not just through Instagram, but in other places like TikTok too. The love of photo-sharing goes back further, I still have fond memories of Flickr. And Facebook is full of meaningful photos too.

Creating spaces in our community for things like this can help bring a stronger connection. Infact, often side-channels are often the most popular channels in communities.

'Random' channels often have photos, but usually they have a bunch of other stuff which gets too overwhelming for people to process. I think by being more intentional with a 'Community Cam' creates clarity on how members can contribute. The randomness of our lives appears in a photostream. We find connections and reasons to see each other as whole beings.

I created an '📸 indiegram' channel in our Discord. As a result others have shared random parts of their lives — food, selfies, pets, outings, waves, and rainbows...! I even discovered my daughter was born on the same day as another members' daughter. ❤️

The nice thing is that I go there to expect randomness of people's lives in a visual format, just like on Instagram!

Replicating the Community Cam idea further

I love the Community Cam idea, however, sometimes channels can become an excuse to dump and run — by this, I mean that people post stuff for their own interests and don't end up contributing back in equal values.

'Resources' or 'Promote your stuff' channels are typical examples of this. And it's easy to see the 'dump and run' behaviour, especially when the exact same message has been posted across similar communities. It's tiresome and actually, imhro (in my humble rosie opinion), devalues the community experience.

The channel creation pressure is real. It's not that posts within themselves are bad, it's the post plus not having any intention of really connecting that becomes a problem. As community builders we should become more aware of the potential negative impact channels have on our communities.

When creating side-channels I encourage balancing it out with creating ones where members can create human connections, to provide an opportunity to see what they have in common. Perhaps an 80/20 rule would apply well here, 80% on the 'community theme', 20% that are more focused on connecting on a more personal level.

A couple of channels I am and would like to explore more:

  • regular voice channels (comparable to Twitter Spaces)
  • casual video chats, 1:1 or small groups (comparable to grabbing coffee)

What other examples can you think of?

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