It doesn't have to be community-first

As much as I love community building, I'm here to be a skeptic too. With all the hype around community since Covid, I want to sprinkle a little bit of rosie realism.

Community is not always the answer. 😲

When everyone jumps on the bandwagon of community-first I feel people end up focusing on the solution first rather than looking at the needs and the challenges that actually need solving. It can be all too easy to fall into a trap of being fixated on a solution over truly understanding the needs.

Instead of getting all excited about jumping into community-first, take a step back, actually several steps back. Have a think about what it really takes to get a community off the ground.

  • How will your community benefit from being community first?
  • How would your business actually benefit from community-first?
  • Are you committed to it for the long term?
  • Are you prepared to take onboard what your community thinks and want?
  • Do you really want community, or is running a sustainable and profitable company good enough?
  • Is it better for you to own a community, or to support other communities around you?
  • You want community, but do your people want it?

An oversimplified process of thinking about whether you need community:

  • First listen: this means researching, studying and taking serious note of what people who would be in your community talk about.
  • Hold conversations: start having conversations. See how you feel. See how others feel about you. Keep doing this to learn, but also to build trust.
  • Build community: maybe. Once you've spent time getting a real feel for who and what is out there, then this is when you can start thinking more clearly on whether you should build community.

And here's a couple of Tweets on the same topic:

From Evan:

From me:

How can we build better communities?

We are on a quest to learn and explore what makes great communities.


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