Are you building a product/service or a community? Sounds like silly question. And no it can’t be both as they are very different metrics. When you market a product or service only you often talk about the benefits it brings. How wonderful life will be now that it is in the world. How it makes the user’s life easier, better, more efficient. And how it increases the user’s status – social, financial, or otherwise.
However, when you are building a community, the product or service is secondary. The product or service is one more way you connect people – peers or not yet knowns. It’s about life being better because of being seen, being known, being a part of something bigger. Building a community is about convening not controlling. Convening others so they can make connections and help each other. It is about creating spaces for others to meet, to share their work, and to make their work better.
Part of this can be done through the physicality of the space we create. We can learn from good architecture and garden design. Even when we do this virtually or digitally, we can still learn from architecture and gardens. But most of this is done through the words we use – the how – we convene. Is it about us, our product and measuring the short term metric bumps most launching give us? Or is it about the long term, the quality of the connections, the organic growth of people inviting others? The amount of ‘you should join us/see this/meet this person’?
Product launches are easy. There is a formula to follow. Building and sustaining a community is hard work. Consistently adding value over the long term is rarely done because it is difficult to get out of the way. Difficult to realise it is not about us and it can’t be about us. So perhaps the place to start is ‘who’s it for?’
What are you building?