How I Learned to Build Community and Why You Should Learn Too
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I'm grateful to all 10,000+ of you who subscribe to this newsletter. For my last post of the year, I want to share some practical tips from building a:
300+ moderator community for Reddit
3,000+ member community for learning web3
Building community is the most important skill that I learned this year.
If you’re in tech, I have no doubt that this skill will only become more important in the future. Read on to understand how I built these communities and why you should learn too.
How I built a moderator community at Reddit
The views below are mine only, not my employer’s.
At work, I'm a product lead for Reddit Talk, our live audio product:
When I joined Reddit, I quickly realized that moderators were our most important customer segment.
I decided to build Talk through community-led product development with our most trusted moderators:
Here’s how we did it in practice:
Created a community for Reddit moderators to try Talk.
Built with moderators by having daily dialogue about the product. We shared designs and responded to feedback openly.
Made time to hang out by posting memes and doing live calls.
The mods in our community really appreciated the open dialog with the Talk team. They started posting comments like this:
If you make time to build a customer community, they will become an extension of your product team. I can't tell you how much of a privilege it's been to work directly with customers to build a product for them:
Also, who knew that Reddit mods would be so great at shitposting?
Check out my post on community-led product development for more examples of this process in action.
How I built a 3,000+ member community for learning web3
I knew that I wanted to build a community from this audience. But the community needs to be about something more important than me.
In September, I wrote a curious beginner's guide to crypto that "explained like I'm five" key web3 concepts. The post was widely shared on social media.
I decided to build a community to co-create quality, free web3 education to help one million people transition to web3:
Here are five takeaways from building Odyssey:
1. Have a clear mission
Our mission is simple: Help 1 million people transition to web3.
In the US, two thirds of people are crypto curious. These people deserve a web3 onramp that's isn’t fraught with scams and misinformation.
2. It's a lonely road early
I created a new community and grew it to 1,500 members in a week thanks to my Twitter audience. Yet, 95% of the people who joined were lurkers. It felt like talking to an empty room.
In hindsight, I should have grown the community slower with proper onboarding.
3. Make onboarding a priority
Community onboarding is VERY important - nobody likes joining a Discord server with 20+ random channels. Here are some baby steps that we took to improve onboarding:
Show a few channels to newbies (e.g., start, intros, how-to-help)
In the how-to-help channel, explain how a new member can help if they have: 0-5 hours/week 5-9 hours 10+ hours
Focus on activating the few people who care, which leads to…
4. Find core contributors
Don't focus on how many members your community has. Focus on activating core contributors who care and can get shit done:
If you find people who are competent AND care about the mission, do everything that you can to help them:
Use a gratitude channel
Amplify their tweets
Make them co-owners
Whether you're building a company or a DAO - talent matters.
5. Kindle small fires
The best communities have many small, empowered teams. If you see a small team forming organically in your community, stoke the fire. Do everything that you can to boost their efforts, even if it doesn’t 100% match the direction that you want to take with the community.
Building a community is a big commitment. But it’s also a critical skill to develop as it’s now easier than ever for a group of internet friends to create something great.
Here’s to a great 2022! 🚀