Whats the best practice of creating fake users and building a “community” first before marketing it?
Others may feel differently, but I feel pretty strongly against the practice of creating fake users. Several high profile communities have done it in the past and it went badly for them when they were discovered.
This article from @Patrick outlines the reasons that it’s considered bad practice:
Moral view aside, our research has demonstrated that if you want your community to survive and be healthy, there isn’t really a short-cut. This game is all about relationships. You need to form (and nurture) really strong ones with a group of people that you’ll launch to. They are called founding members.
Here is a great article to get you started:
Anything that involves artificially inflating your community numbers or creating dummy activity should be avoided at all costs. It’s going to set you up for failure; just like the man who built a house on sand.
Just one of the ways in which this can lead to failure is in the community management that you try to perform after filling your audience and membership with duds. It will skew your KPIs and worse, affect your messaging.
I was handed the reins to the social media accounts in two previous roles and found they had paid Facebook and Twitter to promote their accounts. This lead to an influx of “users” who had no interest in the company, my messaging or in being part of the community. You can’t sell or build communities around British-built publishing and videogame tech to an audience of Ukrainian speaking boxing fans…
Go organic. The only way to ensure a healthy community is to build on a solid base.
Imagine you’d moved in to a new house and you’d seen people in the neighbouring houses. You call round to ask if you could borrow a cup of sugar/hammer/ladder or some help lifting something and no one answers, or you get a recorded message played through the letterbox. for me that’s the way I see using fake users to create a community. To create a community you need actual people, who are building actual relationships whilst getting to know each other and helping with each other’s challenges. Concentrate on finding your founding members, nurture that group and build relationships with them all, let the word spread, invite more people - build more houses, build more relationships and before you know it, you have a community,
A very over simplified take on this, there is obviously more to it than just this, but if I was to recommend something in a nutshell it would be to build your community with real people and get talking with everyone, building relationships.