So, what are you working on? Part 1

Hi Everybody!
I wanted to share that I am just getting started on studying “Starting a Community from Scratch”…

I was previously a Community Manager for a large non-profit and helped them get their social media channels highly active and now I have an opportunity to create an Online Community from scratch for a new kind of peer-to-peer Bank that is a client of mine.

I love business, I think its fascinating the way people serve each other and get paid for it… I’m hoping this new Online Community will become a thriving place for business ideas to be discussed.

I’m hoping my 15 years of business consulting experience will be of help to people who join the community and that this will help “seed” it with the right kind of value and activity until we reach a point where we have enough advisers and entrepreneurs and the community is self-sustaining.

Of course my client is hoping this will lead to community members becoming customers or investors! So I’m taking this course to better guide my efforts to help establish a real community.

Thanks Feverbee for your work to structure this information and learnings… I think Online Communities are incredibly valuable and you guys are truly pioneers in this field!



Welcome on board Jon, thanks for taking the time to post your story.

How far through the process are you and what are you finding the most challenging?

I’m REALLY struggling with the “Omni-channel” nature of online community building… Our goal is to attract small business borrowers, so we want to build a community around small business advice for Canadians…

We thought for example to produce video interviews and Q&A with small businesses to profile them and provide advice. Our team is very senior and experienced, I think small businesses would line up to get the opinion of a former Country Head of a Big 5 Bank in Canada…

However producing a video won’t attract many viewers on YouTube… it needs to be promoted… but to whom?? … so then should we build a following on Twitter and Facebook first, so we have someone to promote the video to? … then when the video gets some views it is far more likely to be found by the YouTube community… but that means focusing on building content to on Twitter and Facebook?! … or should we just have a classic Bulletin Board type of Q&A and forget video altogether?

This sets my head spinning! … so where to start and strategizing around that is really what I’m trying to come to terms with so I can provide a proposal / strategy / plan and budget to my client…

Any ideas would be GREATLY appreciated!

Hey @jonnymcg – hearing you!

Do you have a dedicated community platform, or are you planning to build your community on social media channels?

We’re thinking of doing a hybrid approach… so having some kind of Blog / Forum for a Community Platform on our own domain + LinkedIn Group / Facebook Page / Twitter Feed…

So I think there are probably a couple of notable things here. Firstly, although social media plays a really important part in community building (more so in some communities than others), people tend to put more credence in it (and spend more time on it) than is perhaps smart. We’re talking about that in this thread.

Secondly, it’s a trial and error game. For some audiences, YouTube is fantastic. For others, not so much. Focus all your efforts on one channel for a couple of weeks and keep a really close eye on your analytics and see what converts best.

Hi @jonnymcg, it sounds like an extremely exciting project regardless of the head-spinning choices you are faced with! My recommendation would be to pull yourself up out of the which-channel-to-promote decision and focus on the desired business outcomes and get really granular about the business audience you’re trying to target. Getting clarity around these two questions is going to put you in a much better spot to make those channel and promotion decisions you’re worrying about.

I’d be delighted to chat with you briefly about specifics if you’d like to set up a short Skype call with me. Just send a connection request to todd.nilson.

Just wondering on this one @Ashlee_Connor, is there any scope here to create a simple wiki. Each time you get a question (or get a common question) you simple drop it into a document you can send people to instead?

Not sure if it’s possible given the direct contact, but would be interesting to see what type of tickets you’re getting?

Hey @jonnymcg,

I’m getting to this one a little late, the advice above looks good.

A key thing here is to think of the tiniest possible problem you can completely dominate in this space. The more generic you are, the worse it will be.

A few things I’d think about in addition to this is:

  1. Why Canadian small business owners? Unless you’re giving advice that only applies to canadians, you’re going to be competing against a LOT of other small business communities. That’s a hard place to compete. HSBC, AMEX, Square are (going to be) big contenders in this space.

  2. If you want to build an audience, any medium can work. Do you have an existing audience you can promote to? If so, begin there (probably with videos if they’re REALLY good, otherwise publish an eBook or white paper) and include a LOT of links to share the advice on Twitter/Facebook.

  3. If you don’t have an existing audience, find people in your sector who do. Do guest posts here with links back to something they can download. Do interview with them and publish them on a channel you own and collect more e-mails. Offer to do interviews and speak at events in that field to attract some of their audience for yourself.

  4. Find the most shocking/surprising thing, and go for the really, really, big sites. This must be something we would never imagine. That’s usually a shocking fact, image, or video. Anything remotely generic won’t do.

  5. If you have the budget, you can try using social ads. You should be attract to attract clicks at around the $1 to $2 level. Not a huge amount, but would cost you around $5k to get 500 active people in a group I’d expect. Not something we usually recommend, but can be quicker.

  6. If you do have an audience/website, look at the existing traffic flows. Where can you divert people to the community? How about on the homepage or immediately after they purchase the product via e-mail? Plenty of opportunities there too.

Good luck!


We’re in the process of setting up a support community for our customers (niche enterprise software). We’ve been using ZenDesk which works fine for the requests that are highly customer specific, but we also end up answering the same questions over and over and over .

I’d like to make an actual community out of it but our user population is somewhat small, so the current goal is just to get users to ask their questions in a place they can see answers to others’ questions. If we’re really lucky they might even try searching before asking. We’re currently in the process pre-building as much content as we can.

Not really here for anything specific. I was going to chime in on a Discourse vs nodeBB discussion before I saw the last post date.

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Please do @Ryan_Illman – that thread has been lying dormant because no one has further info. If you do, that would be incredibly valuable.

And welcome!

I’m building a “true” community portal and “beach” voice site for a tourist area in the states (Myrtle Beach, SC). Hopefully, it will be something locals (Around 250,000 live here year-round and 14 million vacationers during the year, but visitors are not my market.) will be interested in. Been at it for a while, still not quite finished. I’m on my 3rd reading of Richard’s book, Buzzing Communities. Maybe that’s my problem, I do too much reading and too little doing. : )

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Welcome @Wouija. Sounds like a great project. What do you mean by a “true” community portal?

Hi Sarah,
I know they’re all communities, but what I mean by true is it’s designed for locals. Something we can find area entertainment, news, connect with and have meet-ups if needed. I can send you a PM of the URL. It’s a work in progress and I wouldn’t want to release the hounds until it’s ready. : ) Thanks for the feedback.

Ah, I see what you mean. Sure, I’d love to see it. :smile:

Hello! I am late to saying hello here, but wanted to chime in.

I have spent 12 years working in community, and during that time have created a unified theory of engagement, with frameworks and a measuring scale for engagement. I’m currently working on that, and am using it as the model for my consulting with clients.

Alongside that, I am also launching a leaders network in the South West of England, and looking at running some conferences.

That’s me!


Hey @scottgould ,
That sounds right up our alley! Welcome on board.
Are you able to share any of your theory of engagement?

Sarah I would love to share it. I have some static frameworks on display here:

However, there is far more than that, and to explain it all, I need to illustrate it. Thus I am working on some videos :slight_smile:

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Hi @brightsteph – you might find it useful to chat with @LilianaOrtiz, who has just signed up.
I believe that she is also working in a L&D community.

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Hello @HAWK

My name is Liliana and I am also working in building a community in the educational sector from scratch.

Have you already started the community @brightsteph ? or are you also in the development process?

I am not sure if you have already checked this resource: but I am finding it really useful.

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