Avoid building your own community platform or social network

Sep 29, 2023
2 minutes to read

Many community platforms I’ve seen seem deserted. No one’s interacting on them. Why might this be the case?

Who’s your rival in the digital arena?

Suppose you’re a budding businessperson launching a website hoping for daily visitors. You’re then contending with every other website people have incorporated into their daily online routine. This could range from prominent news outlets like the New York Times to community-driven platforms like Reddit, or global networking hubs like Facebook. Each of these giants is backed by massive teams constantly fine-tuning their user experience with the help of cutting-edge tech.

The competition seems daunting, perhaps even insurmountable, right? Yet, that’s exactly the challenge community platforms face when they roll out their services. They’re essentially nudging people to tweak their online habits and frequent their sites or apps.

Establishing new habits is a tall order. Recognizing this, startups deploy multiple strategies and incentives to reel users back to their platforms, something most community platforms overlook.

Leverage existing tech habits Instead of pioneering fresh tech habits, it’s wiser to tap into the existing digital behaviors of our target audience.

This involves:

  • Venturing onto Whatsapp if that’s where most of our audience is. Since they’re already habituated to checking Whatsapp, we won’t have to build that behavior from scratch.
  • If LinkedIn is their go-to platform, perhaps initiating a LinkedIn group might be beneficial. This way, they’d be frequenting a familiar site rather than ours.
  • Alternatively, for those not too tech-savvy but reliant on emails, an email-centric strategy might be best.

Participation over functionality A common grumble is the limited functionality of prevalent platforms (like Whatsapp, Facebook, or LinkedIn). Questions arise: Could we provide a comprehensive member map? Can we allow past knowledge searches? What about data privacy?

True, these mainstream platforms might not be feature-rich, and they certainly aren’t bespoke solutions. However, crafting an impeccable tool with no user base defeats the purpose. While integrating with established platforms might limit feature sets, it ensures user engagement.

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