Founder at FeverBee
Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, author of Buzzing Communities, and a frequent speaker at online community events around the world.
Richard is the sole author of the world’s most popular online communities blog and the highly rated book, Buzzing Communities, widely cited as introducing best practice into developing successful online communities.
His unique focus in on cracking the “social code” behind successful social groups. FeverBee’s approaches combines cutting edge social psychology with advanced data insights and a library of repeatable case studies.
Over the past years, Richard has helped to develop over 150+ successful communities, including those for Google, The World Bank, Oracle, Amazon, Autodesk, Lego, The United Nations, Novartis, and many more.
Tactic that has had the biggest impact on Richard’s success
Using customer community to build a loyal army of advocates
Result if you follow the steps in Richard’s session
Build a successful online community
Full session with video, notes, audio and discussion inside EHQ Club. Learn more
Expert session snapshot
So the first thing is every big online community that you see out there today, every single big online community began as a small community first. So they’ve got that concept of the community right first.
So what happens far too often, is that a small business, a small consultancy, perhaps will think, you know, I’m going to get my customers, I’m going to get my clients and I’m going to have this huge community. And they promote their new community on their mailing list, and they try and get as many people to join as quickly as possible.
That turns out to be the exact opposite of what you should be doing. Because in the very first stages of a community, you just need a couple of people that are willing to talk about the topic. And what we find is that most people don’t want to talk about you.
As interesting as your businesses is, as interesting as it’s important to you, your customers, it’s just one part of their day. And it’s one of many inputs they see every day. If I look around here, I’ve got a phone, I’ve got a table, I’ve got a laptop with a water bottle. These are different companies. And I don’t have time to participate in a community for every one of these companies just around here right now.
But we do want to talk about things that we are interested in. Things that we spend a lot of money on, things that are a part of identity are things that we spend a lot of time on as well. So we spend a huge amount of time participating communities around, travel around the hobbies that we have, for example, around these kinds of things.
So the very first thing is to figure out what the concept of that community is going to be. So who’s it going to be for? What is that community going to be about?
So if I’m washing machine, for example, people love the washing machines because they don’t have to think about it, they put the washing in, it gets done. So the thing they ought to be doing is spending time talking about washing machines.
But if you were to think, okay, what kind of community might be useful within this field, maybe it’s a community for people who want to spend as little time as possible, doing their home washing chores or their home DIY chores.
So now you have a concept of that community that’s more likely to stick that people going to come. There’s clear value from participating, the spread knowledge that you’re getting.
So the very first thing is to figure out what the concept of that community is. Sometimes you can just be for people that want to get as smart as possible within that topic. So we have a community for people that build online communities. And the goal activity is really simple. We want you to become as smart as possible within that field.
There might be say, it might be sharing time saving tips, it might be a whole range of different things that could be out there.
The second part is to begin with 10 members. So you have to interview a lot of people to begin with. Find out what their challenges are, find out what their problems are. And then make sure you further discussions around those things.
And then you invite those people that you interviewed in the first place, the people that told you these were the things that they were struggling with, to participate in exactly these kinds of discussions.
And the power of that is that you have people that you know, are going to participate, and it gets a community off the ground. And it validates the concept itself. So once you know, these people are going to join and participate, you know, it’s going to take off after that. So the challenge now is just to gradually invite more and more people, more people to join.
What you don’t do is have this big launch, because a big launch is very risky, you only get one shot of that. And most people are going to join and see an empty online community. And that’s all you want. So get the concept right.
First, make sure it’s something that people can be really excited about. It doesn’t have to be about you and usually it won’t be about your business, will be about some problem that your business solves.
Begin really small, get the concept right in the first place. Make sure you know how to reach the people you want to join it, participate and then grow steadily from there by 10 people at a time, 50 people at a time. Make sure you can onboard them, get them actively engaged as a result of doing that.