I’ll just join in here, because I’m part community manager, blogger, and startup software marketing practitioner. It’s fascinating to me that a lot of startups have similarities with building new communities. I’m currently finishing up my last startup projects and moving more towards the direction of a community I’m managing and some SME in the software industry.
The thing with new communities is risk. You want to keep that to a minimum, while validating your idea or at least see if people feel a similar excitement around a topic. Usually excitement is a good starting point for a community. The key thing to remember is retention. I see this with startups, but even more with communities. You want people to stick around. And if they stay or leave you want to know why.
Best tool that I know to measure this quanti- and qualitatively is this one: http://survey.io/survey/demo
I would reframe it as the community/market fit survey. Especially in Question 2 when doing research and you can already show them your vision / community idea… people should be: Very disappointed. Because then you know that you’ve hit something interesting.
Then regaring your question: Approach people via their preferred channel with a simple question. I use twitter & fb.
Then get them on a 10 -15 minute skype call.
This seems like a lot of work. It is. It will never be easy.
But the information you will get is the best there is.
Additional information via the mom test, really good way to talk to people and keep things moving: http://www.slideshare.net/robfitz/how-to-actually-do-customer-development-and-not-waste-your-time