I Can Haz Community?

Ben Huh from I Can Has Cheeseburger gives you 15 top tips on how to take your community to the next level, one user at a time.

1. Convert Casual Users into Fans
The number one rule of creating a great community is to enable people to share the positive experience that they’ve had on your site. Your aim should be to convert casual users into fans because fans are the ones that will share your content with others.

2. Love on Your Existing Fans, but Not Too Much
Your current fanbase may be quite small. Of course, they are important to your site’s growth but it’s easy to spend all of your effort interacting with this very small percentage of your users. They demand so much of your time (emails etc) that you can easily spend the majority of your time on them. What you actually need is more fans.

3. Empower your Users
For I Can Has Cheeseburger this meant enabling users to save Lol cats, e-mail Lol cats they had made to their friends, and generally encouraging one-to-one sharing of content.

4. Make More People Happy
Humour and happiness is something that people are particularly willing to share with others. I Can Has Cheeseburger set a goal of making people happy for 5 minutes a day. In order to do this they decided to branch out into other areas, including Lol dogs, Lol Celebrity and Fail Blog.

5. Stop Engineering and Start Thinking About the Market
People who work in the technology industry tend to over engineer things. Don’t complicate your problems, simplify them. If you need to add a commenting system to your site don’t build it from scratch, download one. Whatever you do, do it quickly.

6. Don’t Skimp on Great Content
You may not be able to create your own great content very easily. Look at other ways to find great content (I Can Has Cheeseburger bought the Lol cats site which was already creating great content).

7. Provide Ways to Give Feedback
Enable your users to tell you what they think. I Can Has enables people to rate each image (using JS Kit). This is the most used feature by their casual users. If you enable users to give feedback they are much more likely to come back to see what happened and what others thought of it too.

8. Power of Little
Offer users lots of small, simple things to do on your site that don’t require login, such as rating, commenting, saving a favorite, creating an account and finally (hopefully) they will do the most difficult thing of all, contribute to your site.

9. Encourage ‘Thefting’
Don’t just enable people to take things from your site and reuse it, actively encourage it. I Can Has has a little block of code on each image that says ‘take this picture and put it on your blog’. Let people take your content. Why would you prevent others from telling people about you?

10. Be Willing to Prune Your Community
If you have trolls, be willing to get rid of them. Why let trolls piss off your community members who are willing to come and create a positive experience. Digg awards karma points to positive users in order to reward people but also to make it clear who is not contributing to the community.

11. Measure the Number of Shared Experiences, not Users
Try not to fixate on the number of users on your site. It’s much more useful to focus on the number of shared experiences. Admittedly, this is much more difficult to monitor but it’s a much more useful statistic.

12. Shared Experiences = Goodwill
Sharing experiences creates goodwill. Goodwill is a positive feeling that you have towards a product or service. It’s the way that Mac users feel about Apple. You want people to feel that way about your site so do everything you can to enable users to share content.

13. Create Info Porn
People love to look at data about themselves. It the reason why there is a mirror in practically every elevator that you’ve been in. If you have data about your user’s behavior on your site then show it to them. Update it on a daily basis and they will come back on a daily basis. One of the most popular pages on Lol cats is the page that tells people how many ‘fans’ they have.

14. Don’t Pay Contributors
By paying contributors you are removing the original reason why they wanted to be part of your community – goodwill. And realistically, how much can you really pay them? Answer: not much.

15. Don’t Confuse Sharing with Marketing
When your users share content with others they are not marketing. They don’t even think about it in that way and in turn you shouldn’t treat them as marketers. Don’t force marketing messages at them, it will burn their trust.

These tips were taken from Ben’s talk at FOWA London 08 which can be viewed below.

Ben Huh is running a training workshop in London on 3rd Feb. Tickets are limited but still on sale.

Comments

84 comments on “I Can Haz Community?

  1. This website has lost A LOT when you guys switched on this woo theme.Not that it has anything wrong, but your older design was a lot more “distintive” and had more of a “vitamin” feeling, you know?

  2. This website has lost A LOT when you guys switched on this woo theme.

    Not that it has anything wrong, but your older design was a lot more “distintive” and had more of a “vitamin” feeling, you know?

  3. Dude, you are absolutely right. A big part of the branding is gone, than unique design feeling is also gone. Too bad… This Woo theme is nice but I think the old version of the site was better. Even that glossy look was somehow different.

  4. Glad to see someone shares my point of view. what I wonder is, what made them choose to give up on their old design? It did not feel old at all. Not one bit!!!I guess we could wait for their answer :)

  5. Glad to see someone shares my point of view. what I wonder is, what made them choose to give up on their old design? It did not feel old at all. Not one bit!!!

    I guess we could wait for their answer :)

  6. argh, I just wish the new news feed didn't link via Twitter, since it means I can't access the news stories from my work computer (corporate lockdown etc). Please … bring back the old Vitamin news feed I loved it :-(

  7. argh, I just wish the new news feed didn't link via Twitter, since it means I can't access the news stories from my work computer (corporate lockdown etc). Please … bring back the old Vitamin news feed I loved it :-(

  8. We decided to refresh the site because it was *extremely* hard to update, and thus post articles frequently. It was five (five!) WordPress installs, mashed up into one site. It was a nightmare to update and meant we weren't posting articles as often.Also, because we had to let our full-time editor go, we had to make it as easy to maintain the site as possible. Gill is editing the site one day a week, so it needed to be streamlined.Also, the design hadn't been touched for two years, so it was time to refresh it. We didn't have time for a full re-design right now, and we didn't want to wait six months to do it. So a clean Woo theme was the perfect answer.The new theme also makes it much easier to discover new content – which is important.I understand the new design might not be to everyone's taste, but in the long term, you'll be getting much better content and ideas because of it.

  9. We decided to refresh the site because it was *extremely* hard to update, and thus post articles frequently. It was five (five!) WordPress installs, mashed up into one site. It was a nightmare to update and meant we weren't posting articles as often.

    Also, because we had to let our full-time editor go, we had to make it as easy to maintain the site as possible. Gill is editing the site one day a week, so it needed to be streamlined.

    Also, the design hadn't been touched for two years, so it was time to refresh it. We didn't have time for a full re-design right now, and we didn't want to wait six months to do it. So a clean Woo theme was the perfect answer.

    The new theme also makes it much easier to discover new content – which is important.

    I understand the new design might not be to everyone's taste, but in the long term, you'll be getting much better content and ideas because of it.

  10. Ugh, yeah, bad move on the wootheme. The site was trailing downhill, now it looks and sounds like your not really committed to it? 1 day a week? and this theme? even disqus for comments? WTH?

  11. As a past editor, I can vouch for the fact that Vitamin was an ordeal to update, with the 4 WP install hack. Vitamin doesn't make Carsonified ( a small company) any significant revenue at the moment, so one day out of a four-day week is pretty good going for a resource that benefits the whole community – especially in these difficult financial times. This cleaner interface makes it easier to find articles based on categories, it also showcases more of the content from the homepage – the old design was pretty static and the layout didn't do justice to the depth of content on the site – but more importantly, a streamlined publishing process means that the editor can spend more time on soliciting, editing and publishing great articles rather than grappling with the publishing interface. It's a smart solution – now would not be the right time to plough tons of time and money into this. I'm sure in time Vitamin will benefit from the prudent approach taken now.

  12. As a past editor, I can vouch for the fact that Vitamin was an ordeal to update, with the 4 WP install hack. Vitamin doesn't make Carsonified ( a small company) any significant revenue at the moment, so one day out of a four-day week is pretty good going for a resource that benefits the whole community – especially in these difficult financial times. This cleaner interface makes it easier to find articles based on categories, it also showcases more of the content from the homepage – the old design was pretty static and the layout didn't do justice to the depth of content on the site – but more importantly, a streamlined publishing process means that the editor can spend more time on soliciting, editing and publishing great articles rather than grappling with the publishing interface. It's a smart solution – now would not be the right time to plough tons of time and money into this. I'm sure in time Vitamin will benefit from the prudent approach taken now.

  13. Instead of posting about the design of the news feed, and this page, I'm going to comment on the post, which was great!coming from the nonprofit sector, i think the messages we have been getting from everyone else, is use your site as a marketing piece, and the users of your site as little marketing distributors.. and that's just not the way to go, so thanks for this post!! this is the fist time i've been on this site, and I'm glad to be here!

  14. Instead of posting about the design of the news feed, and this page, I'm going to comment on the post, which was great!

    coming from the nonprofit sector, i think the messages we have been getting from everyone else, is use your site as a marketing piece, and the users of your site as little marketing distributors.. and that's just not the way to go, so thanks for this post!!

    this is the fist time i've been on this site, and I'm glad to be here!

  15. Fantastic tips, empowering the user community is really the point that struck a cord with me. I definitely took some good pointers away from this.

  16. As a cat lover I'm a great fan of I Can Has Cheeseburger, I think it's a brilliant site, and obviousy very successful.Ben is obviously a cool guy, and knows how to make a success of what is essentially a simple idea.I have read with interest the 15 points, and will try to use them in our various on line activities in the future.

  17. As a cat lover I'm a great fan of I Can Has Cheeseburger, I think it's a brilliant site, and obviousy very successful.
    Ben is obviously a cool guy, and knows how to make a success of what is essentially a simple idea.
    I have read with interest the 15 points, and will try to use them in our various on line activities in the future.

  18. Thanks for this article, I have I can has cheezburger, and I'm an already converted fan of their, so it's working. Not only I check out the cats pages but also those for dogs and other funny things.

  19. Thanks for this article, I have I can has cheezburger, and I'm an already converted fan of their, so it's working. Not only I check out the cats pages but also those for dogs and other funny things.

  20. There's lots of good stuff here, and some of it so obvious when you stop and think about it.Great site as you might expect too.I think we could all learn a lot here.

  21. There's lots of good stuff here, and some of it so obvious when you stop and think about it.
    Great site as you might expect too.
    I think we could all learn a lot here.

  22. I tried to build my own community site once in a specific niche as I knew I could never compete with the MySpace's and facebooks of the world, but I simply couldn't find a decent script that could do everything I wanted it to do to offer my members a great experience.All the things you listed are valid, just wish I could find a way to start my own community site.

  23. I tried to build my own community site once in a specific niche as I knew I could never compete with the MySpace's and facebooks of the world, but I simply couldn't find a decent script that could do everything I wanted it to do to offer my members a great experience.

    All the things you listed are valid, just wish I could find a way to start my own community site.

  24. These are excellent tips on creating a buzzing community. I particularly like No. 11 which mentions counting the number of shared experiences rather than the users. Very true indeed. This is exactly how a good community grows. I'm new here. Love it already.

  25. These are excellent tips on creating a buzzing community. I particularly like No. 11 which mentions counting the number of shared experiences rather than the users. Very true indeed. This is exactly how a good community grows.

    I'm new here. Love it already.

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  27. it is really hard to compete with the sites that already has a name. if you want to try it, you have to eat your whole house before you succeed. but be careful, no one succeeds when you have patience.

  28. Thanks for this article, I have I can has cheezburger, and I'm an already converted fan of their, so it's working. Not only I check out the cats pages but also those for dogs and other funny things.

  29. it is really hard to compete with the sites that already has a name. if you want to try it, you have to eat your whole house before you succeed. but be careful, no one succeeds when you have patience.

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  33. Ugh, yeah, bad move on the wootheme. The site was trailing downhill, now it looks and sounds like your not really committed to it? 1 day a week? and this theme? even disqus for comments? WTH?