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.