Community Conference 2009: Jake McKee, How to build a community that’s crazy about your product

Jake McKee begins by talking about ‘success by a thousand paper cuts’, which is thinking about the smallest thing possible you can do without approval to get you closer to your goals. He also said that we’ve talked a lot about community, but what we’re really talking about is ‘social engagement’. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s difficult.

Rather than talking about building a community that’s crazy about you or your product, he talks about how to throw a great party. We already build relationships with people in our lives. Parties connect, excite and engage. He lists ingredients to create a great party:

  1. Your party needs a reason to be. What is this thing? Is your party a 12-year-old’s birthday party or a cocktail party with friends.
  2. What’s the higher calling? What are we here to connect about? What is the need we are addressing? What problem are we trying to solve?
  3. Your party needs good planning. Every good social effort starts with good strategy. Prep for scale. Make it simple and flexible so you can constantly evolve. Keep in mind the 1-9-90 principle.
  4. Your party needs a host. We need leaders in social groups. It gives direction to where we’re going in this social group. It gives accountability and direction, and it builds the culture.
  5. Your party needs a few introductions. It doesn’t happen often enough. In the early days of Flickr, every new user was introduced by one of the staff. Every single person who signed up and posted a picture was introduced to others with similar interests. That might not be possible when you’ve got 200 sign-ups an hour, but Flickr had established the culture.
    Not enough communities have mentors, volunteers who welcome people and help them find their way around.
  6. Your party needs an invitation. The site needs functionality and tools that make it easy for members to invite other people. Make it portable such as the share this buttons for Facebook or Twitter. Be explicit with the invitation.
  7. You need social norms. Guidelines and rule are important. Guidelines are guiding principles. How do we translate guidelines into something that people will pay attention to? He points to Flickr’s community guidelines: “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.”
    It is about building culture, not blocking content.
    It creates collaborative ownership. It’s clear and fun. In online environments
  8. Your party needs a bouncer. “Be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”
  9. Power in n00bs and nerds. It’s so easy in a social group to get caught up in the history and the legacy.
  10. You need your attendees to pitch in. People want to be heard, but they also need a something to do.
  11. Your party needs you. These things don’t get outsourced.
  12. Everybody goes home happy. This is what it all boils down to.

He was asked what it takes to be a good community manager. He says it’s all down communication skills.

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