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From the author of Mistake 3: Self-Centeredness

Mistake 3: Self-Centeredness

What kind of online community would be ideal for your company? One where users spend hours filling out detailed surveys about your products? One that's focused on ads for your latest offers? Build a community based on this kind of thinking, and you're likely to run into a problem: No one will want to join. You have to offer something for your users, too—a reason for them to sign up and to come back again and again.

An online community is about relationships—between your brand and the users, between one user and another, and so on. Relationships take time to develop. So the success of your project depends on creating a community that's fun or useful enough not only to attract users, but also to keep them over time.

Make sure that you're starting out with a clear understanding of your website's target population, as well as its needs and wants. Do some research. Brainstorm with people in your target market. What seems interesting to you might not be interesting to them. Never forget that you're working for two masters now: your company and your website members. And consider putting the members first for a while. Once you obtain a sizable population of loyal, happy community participants, your options for benefiting from the website are much greater.

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