The Two Questions to Answer Before Building a Community for your Business

This is post #4 in my 365 Writing Challenge. Subscribe to follow along.


When someone asks for advice for how to build a community for their business I always start by asking the same two questions:

  1. Why is community valuable to your business?
  2. Why is community valuable to your potential community members?

I think those are the most important two questions that a business has to answer. And it’s scary how often they don’t even think about it before they start building their community.

Why is community valuable to your business?

At the end of the day you’re building a business and your community has to achieve your business goals. So before you start building a community you have to understand exactly what those business goals are.

Where will community fit into your business? Will it drive acquisition? Product feedback? Support? Customer success? Content?

Take it further. How will you tie community back to the bottom line? How will it drive revenue or reduce costs?

Get as specific as possible before you get started, not after.

Why is community valuable to your potential members?

A lot of companies will figure out the value that community can bring to their business, but they completely forget about whether or not a community will actually be valuable to their customers.

Communities are built for motivations, not outcomes. If your members aren’t actually motivated to interact with each other and contribute, they won’t create the value that you expect for your business.

Do you truly understand your potential members? Do you understand their sense of identity? Do they feel isolated? Where are they going to connect with people like them?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions and you have no idea if a community will actually be valuable to the potential members, your top priority should be to figure it out. Start conducting interviews, send out surveys, research existing communities… learn as much as possible. You should be able to form personas of your potential community members that will help you form a clear hypothesis for how they’ll participate in the community.

Now Align those Two Value Points

Now that you understand the value that your community will bring to your business and the value that your community will bring to your members, do those two things align?

If you want your community to create content for your website, but the way they want to communicate is in private, the values are misaligned.

If you want your community to give you product feedback but they have no interest in doing that, your value is misaligned.

Align the value to your business with the value to your community members and you’ll be on your way.