A community does not need a token or click-baitish person; it needs a social platform to democratise and amplify best practices and support
Having built the Unicroach group, here are 10 tips on community building which I hope might be useful to aspiring community builders:
- Define leadership and vision early on; Have strategic end goal in mind. Unicroach was about de-institutionalising a network of relationships so that it could spread relationships beyond a few people . It had to be bigger than anything out there to move the needle.
- Empower and centralise gatekeeper authority to curate a relevant audience; Focus on variety but build it on strengths. Unicroach has 256 members from 200 organisations. Almost 90 per cent are founders, 5 per cent are key enablers, and 5 per cent are wildcards. Each one is a phone call or WhatsApp away.
- Start with a single platform for communication to ensure consistency in messaging, content and sharing. About 99 per cent of Unicroach conversations happen within WhatsApp. Even when it gets spammy, people still read the messages.
- Upon maturity, encourage multiple touch points amongst members to create cross-network. Leverage on individuals who can function as common denominators. Unicroach started with 10 founders but we now have constant participation from 50-60 members on a daily basis — with many seeking help or peer support from the group.
- Foster an environment of sharing, but cut down on noise. Unicroach controls spam through self moderation and encourages daily engagement on optional basis. There is a zero tolerance policy for sexism, racism and somehow a natural understanding has been reached where nobody talks about politics.
- Cultivate sense of shared identity by giving it a common language, set of values and a symbol. Hence, Unicroach has a logo and a by invite membership. It is founder-centric to maximise trickle down effects. It also naturally rejects negativity because of its DNA.
- Stagger growth to consolidate membership in sprints; Trim, hack and unbundle if necessary. Unicroach grew at the pace 20, 50, 100, 150, 180, 220, 256. We also now have Unicroach CTOs, VCs and Digital marketeers in different groups started by different Unicroaches.
- Seed, moderate and focus discussions to steer collective growth; Allow flow of natural discourse to create richer conversations. Unicroach has talked about serious topics such as founder depression, platforms, cost of advertising, salary levels and lighter topics such as where to go for getaway or where to hire interns.
- Market it so that it grows organically. More publicity gives it more legitimacy and mindshare. Everybody knows about Unicroach now because the members become social amplifiers by themselves. And hence, the influence grows following a principle of n^2.
- Ensure it is fun but more importantly, purposeful and meaningful. Unicroach is meant to set deep foundations and friendships to last years if not decades. The more one gives, the more he or she will get back in return.
Hope you will find it useful. A sustainable community goes beyond a few figureheads. In contrast to what some may believe, a community does not need a token or click-baitish person. It needs a social platform to democratise and amplify best practices and support. It needs a common voice for leveraged engagement. Essentially, it is unionisation, albeit with a different name.
The reason why I am sharing this simple playbook is to encourage friends from other countries to start similar groups. By creating a tightly knit community even within a small market, new possibilities will open up, sometimes unexpectedly.
I have personally learnt so much from each of the members and there is much more that we can all teach and share in the times to come.
The post first appeared in Warren’s Leow’s Facebook page.
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