With so many community “tools” out there, just what is the best way to form a community around your site/blog/podcast?
One blogger whom I follow regularly and has a strong voice in new media, Chris Brogan, regularly ads a question to the end of his posts, inviting people to comment. Other people get more comments and reaction from their community if they simply give out information. (See Courtney Tuttle.)
Back when I helped launched the Entertaindom portal for Time-Warner (and yes I know it failed miserably, but my part was sound…) the way the top veeps decided to encourage community was to adorn many different fake message board personas and go into the boards and starting topics like: “Wow, the God & Devil Show is awesome – when will I see more?” Then another person in the office would reply, and also start another reply. This was seen as “jump-starting” the message boards.
And the users saw through it immediately.
Faking responses/replies is probably below a “last-ditched effort” to encourage community. If you are caught, it might rev up the community, but not in a good way. unfortunately, this practice is all-too prevalent on message boards that have a “staff” of people running the boards. There is definitely a line drawn that, if you step over it, will completely ruin your board or blog’s credibility. It isn’t a fine line either, it is laid out there plain and simple. Do not fake multiple personas to fake traffic/interest in your blog/site. It will get back to you.
So how do you invite real, credible community, especially on a new web site/blog?
Content. Bring in the content. The community of readers/fans will come soon enough. But content was, is and will always be the number one reason somebody visits your site.