Build Things People Need, And They Will Gather

Whether you are starting or re-starting community, over-indexing on value to your audience is your best long-term investment.

Build Things People Need, And They Will Gather

This one goes out to those of you just starting to build communities or already in the thick of it.

From logos to color swatches to permissions and language, you are pulling the technology levers of digital community. But it's not enough.

Your role isn't just about building a space for gathering; it's about creating a magnet that draws people together.

Whether you are starting or re-starting community, over-indexing on value to your audience is your best long-term investment.

When the music is so good, no one cares about the weather.

When the food is so good, no one cares about the venue.

When the value is so high, people won't care about the platform.

The Intentionality of Food as a Community

Consider the example of a local supermarket. It wasn't designed as a community center, yet it became a pivotal communal space.

Why? At first glance, it's because the market offers something everyone needs: food.

But it's more than just a food solution.

The local market is a place where people bump into neighbors, chat with the staff, and feel a part of something bigger than their shopping list.

Chains like Wegmans over-index on this, with associates there to carry your groceries to the car for you.

This is a powerful metaphor for community building.

It's not the physical space that defines the community but the shared experiences and needs it addresses.

How to Build Your Community with Purpose

Here's a simple process, very similar to the ACP model that Greg Isenberg uses, for building with your people instead of for them.

Start with the Why

Identify the Core Need: Pinpoint what brings your community together.

Is it a shared interest, a common goal, or perhaps a collective challenge?

For example, if you're interested in building something for sports leagues, how can you find them? In real life, online, in the news. How can you connect with them? Where can you become part of what they are doing?

Provide Value Beyond Space

Craft Something Indispensable: Focus on creating or offering something that your community finds invaluable. This could be a product, a service, or a piece of content that addresses a shared need.

All of this work is based on the conversations you see and participate in.

We don't anticipate, we participate.

But before you even build, ask. Get people in the DMs, in the 1-on-1s...does this make sense? What's missing? What other pain do you have?

Facilitate Organic Interactions

Encourage Connection: Design your offering in a way that naturally encourages interaction among its users. It could be through user-generated content, forums, or live events.

This is why working inside an existing audience or community is critical. Do your work in places where people are already connected and talking.

Amplifying Your Reach via Community

Once you've laid the groundwork, it's crucial to expand and refine your approach based on what resonates with the right people. This is where community comes in.

By collecting a small group of people, you can start to do the work in faster and more effective cycles.

Build with these people, iterate with them, involve them in the process.

You didn't make this. WE MADE THIS.

Highlight What Works

Showcase Success Stories: Share examples of community members benefiting from what you've built. This will not only validate your effort but also inspire others to engage more deeply.

This isn't a goal or a's simply a by-product of how you have architected your work to date.

You will have success stories because people are building. They are using the product. They have a connection to it. They trust it. They are proud of it.

Communicate Your Vision

Be Clear About Your Community's Value: Make sure your messaging articulates the unique benefits of being part of your community. Why should someone invest their time and energy into this space, with these people?

Community is a flywheel of energy, of ideas. Built right, everyone wins (and continues to win) as the community grows and the value compounds.

Continue to lead your work through the community. Put it at the center of your value equation.

E = mc^2

*the community the square!!!

The Journey from Building to Belonging

In short, your mission is to build things people love enough that they'll want to be part of a community about it.

This means looking beyond the logistics of community building and focusing on the heart of what brings people together.

Your role is to become a catalyst for connection, providing something so essential that it becomes part of the foundation of your community's identity.