Discussion of online communities

As part of my assisting with the current Podcast Fellowship course run by Akimbo, one of the course participants asked me if they could pick my brain about building communities. We ended up recording a short video with some Q&A about communities, including some behind-the-scenes info about the Movers Mindset community’s evolution over the years.

Nicole Colter is using this video as part of a topic discussion in some other communities, but I thought I’d also post it up here in case anyone here was interested. :slight_smile:

  • Introductions : Nicole Colter (Pick Yourself Project), Sanat Singhal (21st Century Visionary podcast), Craig Constantine (Movers Mindset podcast). Met in the Podcasting Fellowship 5 (TPF5). Goal of using Discourse to create community online, creating a format that is user friendly.
  • How did you come to use Discourse? Discourse (open source software, and company creating forums). Movers Mindset evolved into creating a forum for discussion. Started with a phpBB forum. Old forum, very technical, the Parkour Forum. Ended up being too complex, and rarely caused discussion. Found Discourse, Meta-discourse community to learn about it.
  • Switching over to Discourse : Been using it for almost 3 years, constantly fiddling with it. Started out trying to use the cool things, and now more of trying to solve problems as the arise. Choosing the functions you want.
  • Creating engagement: No particular goal of how large it needs to be; more engagement because parts of it are public. No specific marketing, just through podcast. Currently more intentional about directing people to the forum, organic growth. Successful through just letting it grow.
  • Nuts and bolts : Craig can do all of his own tech through his skill sets… But the beauty of Discourse is you don’t have to. You can find either, the kind you run yourself, or the kind you pay to not have to run. You can pay Discourse to run it for you, or do it yourself. $100/month for Discourse to run your site, and get support. Or you can teach yourself how to use it and learn about the tech. If you’re using it as a tool to run a community, probably best to let them run it. Fairly expensive in the field, but effective. Feverbee article about various types of community softwares, showing differences and goals.
  • Onboarding and orientation : The old fashioned way, sending them messages. Disco-bot is helpful, and customizable. Direct message with greeting and some starting places. Talking to an actual person, starting that relationship, and allows them to ask for help. The community is the people, not the software. Scale up with various tricks; drip email, multiple people on the team. Gentle beach slope, but some cost to get involved. Intentional requirements to verify members; click a button, verify email address, scheduled zoom calls, etc. Requiring engagement, create friction so there’s a reason people enter.
  • Scaling, engagement, and personal touch: Deciding on the purpose of the space; a specific cohort, or constantly greeting newcomers in a mentoring way. Akimbo courses journey through together, on a trajectory together. You need to decide early to set the culture of that community.
  • Final thoughts : Don’t overthink it! What is the minimum viable concept, then do that. The rabbit hole is deep, so just try to build something and then work from there.