Greg Isenberg said it really well:
For startups, the main focus revolves around their product and growth. And it makes sense. We are a startup ourselves. With time being the limited resource at our hands, it becomes inevitable to say NO to a lot of things in order to maintain our focus, and stability.
So, the point is, why am I trying to put stress on “building community” for startups?
Short Answer - The benefits are compounding.
Long Answer - As we wrote in one of our previous articles..
Even a pandemic couldn’t push the community on the back foot. When everything was closing down, communities were still chugging around. So, sure, businesses like you will be in the work of connecting humans in the next decade. If you take a harder look, you’d see that you already are.
We have all seen this in the example of many other startups, where they have utilized the power of community at the earliest stage of their growth. Airbnb, GitHub, SoundCloud, Foursquare, Eventbrite, Buffer, Yammer, Hootsuite....the list could go on. Even when you think of social products, B2B or B2C, there are several startups that have invested a lot of time and effort into building a strong community around their brands and products.
But why is that? With all the relatively “more important things” a startup has to figure out, why do they focus on community?
And the bigger question here is - Why now?
While the community-driven growth has been a long time coming, COVID has acted as a catalyst when people craved to find a sense of belonging online, more than ever. Especially, there has been a transformational experience in the world of the SaaS marketplace. Nowadays, buyers look up to influencers and thought leaders to choose tools. They are coming to the table with a much clearer option on the tools available.
Bottom line - in a product-driven growth world, the buyer has to trust themselves to choose the best product whereas, in a community-driven growth world, buyers are inclined towards their community of friends and peers for guidance.
Online Communities are the “secret weapon” to startups
Let’s dig in to find out why:
Builds a collaborative relationship with customers
All the biggest communities in the world started with a founder who spent countless hours building relationships one at a time. There’s no shortcut.- David Spinks
Community-driven growth allows you to earn customers’ trust. As you are creating an intimate space for them to be a part of, they vent without judgment by participating in the topics of interest to them. It’d be a place where you’ll always be kind, accept your mistakes, make high-quality introductions and encourage deep meaningful conversations. Subsequently, this will flourish into a symbiotic relationship with your members.
Thought leadership ultimately becomes your startup’s brand
Once you’ve got the pulse of your market space, you’d know what kind of content your community needs the most. When you’ll start creating content around these lines, you’d have members’ answer each other queries in the middle of the night, share playbooks and guides about best practices, brainstorm creative ideas, which will enable you to think of new solutions that you might not have otherwise. In doing so, you are delivering value beyond your product. It will naturally become your company’s brand before you even realize it.
Online communities directly benefits the sales team, product team, and customer support
Any great community would give real-time insights that you could turn into actionable responses for each team across your startup -
Sales team: When you have an engaging community, it gives your sales team a strong pipeline of engaged potential members which could turn into happy customers.
Product team: Community-driven approach is a key to startup growth as the product team gets complete visibility of what members are getting wrong, feature requests raised by the members, and their feedback.
Customer support: Not only will the customer support benefit from responding to the customers’ queries in real-time but also they would see a decrease in the number of support tickets. Thanks to member-to-member interactions encouraged by a community.
Glynk’s tip 💡
If you’re wondering whether your startup is a community-market fit or not, you’ve nothing to worry about. There’s only one process that truly works in this case. Talk to your potential community members as much as you can. Form a community hypothesis. Test it. Repeat the process until you get the “right answer”. And it’s absolutely okay to start with small groups. There’s some sort of magic in that. It’s always better to start small when you are building a community.
Even if you want to start up and looking for great ideas, just start a community. Grow it. Let the community inspire you with ideas. And notice those ideas. The point is, unleash the power of community before you even think of starting your company and keep evolving.
Move fast, build great communities, and provide value! If you liked what you read, please share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter - wherever you love to spend most of your time spreading knowledge!