The Art of Creating a Community

I admit it: I’m a user-group junkie. I got my first taste of user groups when I worked for Apple—speaking at their meetings was one of my great pleasures. Their members were unpaid, raging, inexorable thunderlizard evangelists for Macintosh and Apple II.

These folks sustained Apple by supporting its customers when Apple couldn’t—or didn’t want to—support them itself. Now that Apple is the homecoming queen again, there are lots of people receiving, taking, and claiming credit for its success. The Apple user-group community deserves a high-five tribute too.

Now that I gotten that off my chest; I can move on to the topic of this entry: how to create a kick-ass community. I anticipate many comments to this entry, so I am warning you in advance that I am going to modify and supplement this entry frequently. RSS readers beware! 🙂

  1. Create something worth building a community around. This is a repeated theme in my writing: the key to evangelism, sales, demoing, and building a community is a great product. Frankly, if you create a great product, you may not be able to stop a community from forming even if you tried. By contrast, it’s hard to build a community around mundane and mediocre crap no matter how hard you try.

  2. Identify and recruit your thunderlizards—immediately! Most companies are stupid: they go for months and then are surprised: “Never heard of them. You mean there are groups of people forming around our products?” If you have a great product, then pro-act: find the thunderlizards and ask them to build a community. (Indeed, if you cannot find self-appointed evangelists for your product, you may not have created a great product.) If it is a great product, however, just the act of asking these customers to help you is so astoundingly flattering that they’ll help you.

  3. Assign one person the task of building a community. Sure, many employees would like to build a community, but who wakes up every day with this task at the top of her list of priorities? Another way to look at this is, “Who’s going to get fired if she doesn’t build a community?” A community needs a champion—an identifiable hero and inspiration—from within the company to carry the flag for the community. Therefore, hire one less MBA and allocate this headcount to a community champion. This is a twofer: one less MBA and one great community.

  4. Give people something concrete to chew on. Communities can’t just sit around composing love letters to your CEO about how great she is. This means your product has to be “customizable,” “extensible,” and “malleable.” Think about Adobe Photoshop: if it weren’t for the company’s plug-in architecture, do you think its community would have developed so quickly? However, giving people something to chew on requires killing corporate hubris and admitting that your engineers did not create the perfect product. Nevertheless, the payoff is huge because once you get people chewing on a product, it’s hard to wrest it away from them.

  5. Create an open system. There are two requirements of an open system first, a “SDK” (software development kit). This is software-weenie talk for documentation and tools to supplement a product; second, APIs (application programming interfaces). This is more software-weenie talk for an explanation of how to access the various functions of a product, and it’s typically part of a good SDK. I’m using software terminology here, but the point is that you need to provide people with the tools and information to tweak your product whether it is Photoshop, an iPod, or a Harley-Davidson. Here’s a non-tech example: An open system school would enable parents to teach courses and provide a manual (SDK) for parents to understand how to do so.

  6. Welcome criticism. Most companies feel warm and fuzzy towards their communities as long as these communities toe the line by continuing to say nice things, buying their products, and never complaining. The minute that the community says anything negative, however, companies freak out and pull back their community efforts. This is a dumb-ass thing to do. A company cannot control its community. This is a long-term relationship, so the company shouldn’t file for divorce at the first sign of possible infidelity. Indeed, the more a company welcomes—even celebrates criticism—the stronger its bonds to its community.

  7. Foster discourse. The definition of “discourse” is a verbal exchange. The key word here is “exchange.” Any company that fosters community building should also participate in the exchange of ideas and opinions. At the basic level of community building, your website should provide a forum where customers can engage in discourse with one another as well as with the company’s employees. At the bleeding edge of community building, your CEO participates in community events too. This doesn’t mean that you let the community run your company, but you should listen to what they have to say.

  8. Publicize the existence of the community. If you’re going to all the trouble of catalyzing a community, don’t hide it under a bushel. Your community should be an integral part of your sales and marketing efforts. Check out, for instance, this part of the Harley-Davidson web site dedicated to the HOG (Harley Owners Group). If you search for “user group” (with quotes) at Apple’s site, you get 112 matches. (The same search at Microsoft’s site yields 16,925 matches—I’m still pondering what this means!)

By | 2016-10-24T14:28:41+00:00 February 14th, 2006|Categories: Marketing and Sales|114 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

114 Comments

  1. Servant of Chaos February 14, 2006 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    What’s In It For Me?

    Let’s face it, we all like to feel part of something. We all like to feel that we are reaching out to others of like mind (or interest). On some level this can be translated as self interest (even if

  2. Kendall February 15, 2006 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Guy, your point about discourse really sticks out to me. It seems like organizations so often miss the boat on this one. If they do have a community around their product they are unable or unwillingly to engage with it. This engagement will no doubt increase goodwill, but also give the organization insight into the minds and hearts of their users.
    Great Post. Definitely bookmarked.

  3. Eli Singer February 15, 2006 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Some thoughts to add to the mix. Communities often coalesce organically around a common goal. To point #1, while sometimes this is a product, I suspect more often it’s about a shared vision or an ideal state that people are working together to achieve. In addition to a common goal, communities often have shared values that lay the ground rules for interaction between members.

  4. Adventure of Strategy February 15, 2006 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Creating a Community

    Great post today from Guy Kawasaki called The Art of Creating a Community. Community in this case being a group of people that are communicating/collaborating/conspiring on something of common interest. Could be within your firm; between people inside…

  5. steve george February 15, 2006 at 2:30 am - Reply

    About Apple and User groups.
    Since about 2002 or so, there has not been much support from Apple for User Groups per se. Volunteers outside of Apple have been great — and it is wonderful that people like you still help out these groups. Apple does not need a huge “user group department” or spend a lot of money. But a cool, energetic staff of even two people, say, to put a face on it and get out to connect with the groups, make them feel apart of the team, etc. would be very nice.
    You and Woz etc. get it…not sure Apple does. But groups keep going anyway…that’s their nature.
    Great, great post, Guy!
    -SG

  6. Marketing Interactions February 15, 2006 at 4:50 am - Reply

    http://marketinginteractions.typepad.com/marketing_interactions/2006/02/in_the_art_of_c.html

    In The Art of Creating a Community, Guy Kawasaki lists a number of things for you to think about when forming a group. Out of his list, there are a few I’d like to take a closer look at and dig below the surface a bit to flesh out the value they can de…

  7. Frank Koehntopp February 15, 2006 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Guy,
    as much as I love your books and appreciate the ability to discuss the topics here – are you basically going to re-publish them as blog entries here now?

  8. Alex Krupp February 15, 2006 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Guy,
    For #6, in Rules for Revolutionaries you say something along the lines of, “When customers complain this is a good thing because they still want to buy your product. It’s when they stop complaining that you have to worry.” If you are going to be editing anyway, maybe you could add that quote 🙂

  9. Omer Trajman February 15, 2006 at 7:21 am - Reply

    The answer to your question in point 8 is simple: have you see the Steve Balmer “developers” dance? MS realized very early on that the most important community is not Windows users rather Windows developers.

  10. Ryan Torma February 15, 2006 at 7:29 am - Reply

    What do you mean by thunderlizards?

  11. Eric February 15, 2006 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Sounds simple…it’s really not though.

  12. Face2Face Meetingsnet February 15, 2006 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Creating community, Guy Kawasadi style

    Even though he’s talking about corporate communities, this post by Guy Kawasaki also is a must-read for associations. Read it, then ask yourself if your meeting is building community, or taking away from the community you’d like to have around your com…

  13. Geordie Carswell February 15, 2006 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Great post Guy, I just finished reading the community section in the art of the start last night…
    One thing we’re grappling with is how to prevent the community from ending up with pissing matches and public conflicts between members who have humility issues when it comes to allowing room for multiple opinions etc…
    The last thing we want is some kind of dispute between members (especially over our technology) to spill over onto the rest of the web.
    Anyone have any thoughts on how to handle this?

  14. John Spilker's New Media Blog February 15, 2006 at 8:42 am - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community

    Nicely done article on creating community by Guy Kawasaki. His thinking nicely dovetails with the ClueTrain Manifestothat sayscommunitycannot be stopped or controlled, but it can provide indispensable insight to those who listen. Via Let the Good Time…

  15. Culture February 15, 2006 at 8:54 am - Reply

    What should I have on my website?

    Let the Good Times Roll–by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Creating a Community I have been asked to help with churches that want a website. When I ask, “What do you want it to say?” I get a puzzled look. “Well, we want events, and a calendar, and, oh, I kno…

  16. Jason Collins February 15, 2006 at 9:27 am - Reply

    GuyKawasaki on The Art of Creating a Community

    Great article from Guy Kawasaki.

  17. Ashvil's Blog February 15, 2006 at 9:57 am - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community – by Guy Kawasaki

    Guy Kawasaki has some great points on building a community.
    Create something worth building a community around.
    Identify and recruit your thunderlizards—immediately!
    Assign one person the task …

  18. The Christian Businessman February 15, 2006 at 10:00 am - Reply

    How community builds into viral marketing

    As a person who was once a representative for Apple computer I know of what Guy speaks. Apple had an incredible product and they knew it. I begged my way into a job with them as a student representative to our local university. When I got the job I e…

  19. Doug Hanna February 15, 2006 at 10:00 am - Reply

    It’s important to respond to criticism (if some applies) publicly and not to delete it. You may add that by deleting posts that may be critical of your company, it’ll cause a huge uproar.
    Also, it’s important to have company staff involved and respond to feedback.

  20. Ted Smith February 15, 2006 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Networking: Laggards and ‘freaks’
    CHICAGO, Feb. 13 (UPI) — Are you a laggard cubicle dweller? An early-adopting connectivity junkie? Or a PIM — personal information management — freak? Whatever the situation may be, developers of networks are increasingly stratifying their marketing as they target these mobile professionals, experts tell United Press International’s Networking.
    The objective: providing the right technology and solutions to the next 100 million global users who incorporate mobile networks into their work lives. By Gene Koprowski

  21. silk and spinach February 15, 2006 at 10:41 am - Reply

    creating a user community

    Guy Kawasaki on how to build a user community

  22. kevin February 15, 2006 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Great insight Guy. BMW motorcycles has a similar user group site that is a perfect example of what you are talking about here. Another thought on user groups is that most people in today’s society have a fundamental need to belong to some sort of community. Great Brands/Products always form that sense of belonging in their said space.

  23. karibu February 15, 2006 at 11:05 am - Reply

    great blog but what’s wrong with the MBAs ?!?

  24. Mark Curphey February 15, 2006 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Great post. I am about to start embarking on building a new community based on information security policy, standards, regulation and compliance. The last one I built was OWASP (http://www.owasp.org) and is referenced by the FTC and many others. It was a great learning experience. One thing I learnt but didn’t see discussed the topic of balancing quality, quantity and openness.
    In the beginning OWASP flourished as I labored 80 hour weeks to produce documentation and we brought together all of the bullet points you describe. Perfect storm ! Quantity and originality were the key factors. However as projects become successful you often start to attract the wrong kind of person; those pushing an agenda or those that are not really leaders in the field. Conventional wisdom says meritocracies win out but in reality sometimes “he who speaks loudest and most often wins”. The result is often a lack of quality and you become a victim of your own success.
    When I do this again (doors open to next community on April 1st) I will pay careful attention to a balance of quantity and quality and try to balance business motivations and altruism. OWASP is somewhat suffering today as a result of missing this and as a result is the defacto standard today due to its historic position rather than thought leadership. Maybe this is a natural evolution (this was the perspective of Ward Cunningham when I spoke to him) but I think had I understood the organic nature of communities more the project would be an even greater success.
    Summary; understand the needs of your audience. Is quantity important (completeness of topic covered) or Quality (depth of knowledge in specialist areas). And understand the organic nature of human interaction !
    (Of course this all applies to non-company evangelist communities)

  25. Recruiting.com February 15, 2006 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Community isn’t just a bunch of Guy(s)

    Guy Kawasaki, who is permanently bookmarked on Franki’s laptop, has another great post out today about the importance of communities online. We’re going to analyze his suggestion as it applies to the Recruiting.com group blog, so buckle in. Create some…

  26. MN Headhunter February 15, 2006 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Developing The IT Volunteer Network

    Very timely post from my friend Jim Durbinon Recruiting.com referencing Guy Kawasaki’s post yesterday on developing online communities. As my plan to form this volunteer network continues to be formed in my head and what I write down at 2

  27. Nick's Delphi Blog February 15, 2006 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community

  28. Damon Billian February 15, 2006 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    My personal Rule#1:
    Don’t forget that community is about your customers (or potential customers) first.

  29. Digital Digressions February 15, 2006 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    The Art of Experience Design

    A brilliant post from Guy Kawasaki on the subject of creating communities has prompted me to share some of my findings on a topic closely related: The Art of Designing Experiences. Communities in fact link very closely to one of the missions of great e…

  30. Deepak February 15, 2006 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I just forwarded this post to all my product marketing colleagues

  31. Startup Fever February 15, 2006 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community

    Guy Kawasaki on the art of creating a community:
    I admit it: I’m user-group junkie. I got my first taste of user groups when I worked for Apple—speaking at their meetings was one of my great pleasures. Their members were unpaid, raging, inexorabl…

  32. Faruk Ateş February 15, 2006 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    9. Keep your community on its toes. It’s great to have a close relationship with your community, but keep a sensible distance. Don’t share too much information about new products or features with them. Communities love to speculate, but surprise them every so often and prove their speculations wrong and they’ll love you for it.

  33. Hanks Corner February 15, 2006 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Wanted: One ThunderLizard

    Guy Kawasaki had a great post
    a couple of days ago that I have been meaning to point out. I
    wish…

  34. Another Day in the Antz Farm February 15, 2006 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community – Guy Kawasaki

    Community building and engagement has always been a dream job
    responsibilites of mine, what can be more…

  35. MyMicroISV February 15, 2006 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Guys 8 community-building rules.

    As always, Guy Kawasaki is saying things that garage startups micro-ISVs should read, print, reread and divide into Next Actions. This time, its how to build a community around your micro-ISVs product. This is the magic you need to be suc…

  36. elsua: The Knowledge Management Blog February 15, 2006 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community – 8 Key Items to Take into Account

    Over at Guy Kawasaki’s weblog Let the Good Times Roll he has shared a couple of days ago an interesting post that I thought was worth while commenting on. The title of the article is The Art of Creating a…

  37. olivier blanchard February 15, 2006 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    … You had me at one.

  38. Clique Communications February 15, 2006 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    A Primer To Build Communities

    Guy Kawasaki is a well repected venture capiltalist in Sillicon Valley. He wrote The Art of the Start : The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, which is a must read for anyone starting a new venture. So when he writes on hi…

  39. evilzenscientist :: thoughts February 16, 2006 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Building a Community

    Guy Kawasaki has a great post tonight on Building a Community.
    Im not going to post it here – but take a read.
    Were right in the middle of getting the Novell CoolBlogs kicked off – this is great timely reading.

  40. Jan February 16, 2006 at 12:05 am - Reply

    Re the question of what it means that Microsoft has many more references to user groups than Apple on its site:
    A) Maybe Microsoft has a lot more text on its site than Apple… 😉
    B) More seriously, there are different kinds of user groups. Some, like BMUG, exist to celebrate the greatness of the product, as it were. Others may be more alike to multiple sclerosis self-help groups*, offering advice and consolation to fellow sufferers.
    My own prejudices (yes, I’m a Mac user…) lead me to believe that Microsoft user groups may be closer to the latter type of user-group than typical Mac user groups. (Although Omer, above, certainly has a point about developers.)
    For the company making the products it may not matter that much: In both cases it makes good sense for them to support the user groups. Either you help spread the joy, or you alleviate the pain. In both cases, total user satisfaction goes up.

  41. The.RSS.Reporter February 16, 2006 at 1:15 am - Reply

    =?utf-8?B?ZGVsLmljaW8udXMvcG9wdWxhcg==?=

    Let the Good Times Roll–by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Creating a Community

  42. Chris Brogan... February 16, 2006 at 3:47 am - Reply

    The first and only time I ever saw you in person was at the first (that I knew of) Mac user group meeting at MIT in Cambridge. Even then, you had great presentation chops, and you kept a room attentive and happy they came. When I read this post, I felt nostalgic. Thanks!

  43. Net February 16, 2006 at 5:56 am - Reply

    The Art of Creating A Community

    Guy Kawasaki from “Let the good times roll”, by provides us with some valuable advice about the art of creating a community. Having been involved in quite a few “community building companies”, I think that Maxthon by far exceeds them

  44. Jon Schwartz February 16, 2006 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Thanks, Guy! I’ve spent the last 7 months (and still am) building global community around our Kid’s Programming Language – educational freeware whose success has pretty much been defined and driven by volunteer effort, support, and word-of-mouth. This post is most encouraging and useful, thanks!

  45. Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist February 16, 2006 at 8:07 am - Reply

    Guy on Community – I say its like tending bar

  46. Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist February 16, 2006 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Guy on Community – I say its like tending bar

  47. Mark Sylvester February 16, 2006 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Guy, we have been working with people who want to build Communities using our Social Networking Platform, introNetworks.
    This platform is the basis for over 70 Communities right now, from Intel to Adobe, AD:TECH to The Holocaust Museum, we have been creating customized Communites to serve the exact ideas you mention in this information blog.
    Building a Community is easy. Growing it, nurturing it, communicating with it is where you really have to focus your daily efforts.
    Cheers
    Mark Sylvester, Co-Founder, introNetworks.com
    ps. We enjoyed your talk at UCSB a couple of years back – and seeing you at DEMO last year.

  48. New Workforce - The Weblog of New Equities February 16, 2006 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Kawasaki on creating communities

    Guy Kawasaki, of Apple Computer fame who (literally) wrote the book on software evangelism and building enthusiastic user followings for great products and services, has a must-read post on “The Art of Creating a Community”.

  49. Didier February 16, 2006 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Guy,
    The first think I want to say is that It’s quite rewarding to see how the people involved in a community can react and be happy to contribute.
    (see the faces of Alain and his soon athttp://www.macinside.be/galerie/v/reunions/20051206/IMG_2286.jpg.html)
    A lot of others are just consuming it but they will hopefully one day be an active part of the stuff.
    You are probably right but the 112 results are general documents using the terms “user group” (try “users group”).
    It’s not refering to the numbers of MUG (Mac Users Groups) at all (see http://www.apple.com/usergroups/find/).
    It’s also quite difficult to count the MUG users groups in the world.
    The MUG Center is another good starting point for the ones intersted in this kind of engagement (http://www.mugcenter.com/).
    “If you search for “user group” (with quotes) at Apple’s site, you get 112 matches. (The same search at Microsoft’s site yields 16,925 matches—I’m still pondering what this means!)”
    Good luck to the fools ! Didier (Belgium – MacInside.be)

  50. Jose Chajon Blog February 16, 2006 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Building a Community?

  51. Visual Studio Blog February 16, 2006 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Building a Community??

    A good post on Community
    http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/02/the_art_of_crea.html

  52. k-ro February 16, 2006 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Nice post. Another great example of a community formed around a product is:
    http://virtualweberbullet.com/
    If you ever want to get into smoking your food, check it out!
    Karl

  53. meetings industry soapbox February 16, 2006 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Free-Forming Communities

    Marketing maven Guy Kawasaki has posted on his blog a list of eight ways that companies can create communities of users around their products and services. Kawasaki’s ideas seem rooted in the digerati value of open source, a term that

  54. Alper February 17, 2006 at 6:17 am - Reply

    I am just about to start on an effort to get my company on board of the Cluetrain and build a community around our customers.
    Your post is great and gives some valuable talking points around the subject to rally people with.
    Keep up the good mojo!

  55. Sean Ammirati February 17, 2006 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Great post!
    In addition to #5 where you ask the community to build something, you should also show them what you built based on their input.
    I believe the person responsible (#3) should report into the product manager.

  56. Christopher Mahan February 17, 2006 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Item 6: it’s “toe the line”, not “tow the line”.
    coming to you from Grisanzio’s blog.

  57. met February 17, 2006 at 11:36 am - Reply

    A few more years and you’ll find more user groups at apple and maybe lesser at microsoft 😉
    Times are changing.
    Apple isn’t nice to its community. Yes they do churn out great products – but they treat their users as novices.

  58. Articles on Customer Experience Management February 17, 2006 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community

    If you have a great product, then pro-act: find the thunderlizards and ask them to build a community. (Indeed, if you cannot find self-appointed evangelists for your product, you may not have created a great product.) If it is a great product, however…

  59. Certified Association Executive February 17, 2006 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    You can’t “create” community!

    To say you’ve created a community is like saying you’ve created a tree. I’m seriously troubled by Guy Kawasaki’s claim that organizations should “create” community…

  60. Johan Hjelm February 18, 2006 at 12:48 am - Reply

    When you work with user communities, you learn something: Swallow your pride.
    Why do you think companies react with surprise to the formation of communities? Because they had a definite idea about what their product was for, and users told them differently. If the company is really about satisfying developer dreams, rather than customer needs and wants, goodbye market, and hello angry community.
    Second thing: The community may not be the customers, it may be the customers customer; or the vendor of the adapted product to the customer (The community which careas about earth movers are not the resellers – which are the customers – but the guys who dig the trenches with them; and the community which matters to Microsoft is not endusers (obvious), but developers – as was noted in another comment).
    //Johan

  61. Guy Kawasaki February 18, 2006 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Christopher:
    Thanks! “Toe” it is.
    Guy

  62. Dustin Robertson February 18, 2006 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Hello Guy,
    The amount of absolute truth you write every week is astounding Seth turned me onto your blog so I guess that would be reason 1001 how Seth makes me smarter.
    Being a retailer http://www.backcountry.com we thought it would be difficult to create a community but as you point out in idea number 2 all you have to do is ask. http://www.backcountry.com/store/horde.html
    We are still in community infancy and just beginning to allow the community to flip the funnel. However before we ask the community for too much we need to have an excellent plan to raise the importance of community members. Face it we all want to feel important and I believe this is vital to community success. I think you brushed this topic in point number 8 but it is worth mentioning that making individuals feel important we ensure long term health of the community.

  63. Mark H February 18, 2006 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Great post.
    One suggestion I might add to this is to provide a framework to let discourse happen, and for the host to fully appreciate the boundaries of that framework. This is especially important for corporations who want to create communities.
    By framework, I’m suggesting giving people an idea of where the boundaries are. Some companies frankly really aren’t interested in a true open dialogue. That may be OK, but set that expectation up front, in terms of guidelines and rules that help people know what’s open for discussion, and what might be moderated. If you set expectations early, that helps.
    A lot of the companies I previously worked with to set up sponsored communities didn’t really fully appreciate this, and were sometimes disappointed in the results.
    Granted, putting a tight framework on your community might create a chilling effect, masking potentially dangerous issues affecting your company or brand. It might also scare off influencers, who you really need in any community, to help get it going, and to drive discussion among the community while bringing new people to the table. The companies I worked with that fully embraced openness, warts and all, found great customer insights, and were able to convert skeptics and build evangelists as a result.
    The last thing I’d suggest is making it really freakin easy for people to participate, and to be alerted when there’s relevant/interesting content to participate in. In my time building community products for Yahoo, it was really easy to see when a community product was successful, not just in the stength of content, but in the measure of retention.

  64. Sean Tierney February 18, 2006 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    Guy, good stuff. I would add a few important pieces though. I helped start the Coldfusion Usergroup in Phoenix back in ’99 and learned a great deal about building communities from that effort (http://www.azcfug.org/). Some lessons I learned from that project:
    1. delegate early on – by chunking the roles in the group and handing responsibilities to people not only do you offload some of the tasks from yourself but you get buy-in from others and build inertia with multiple people aligned towards the same goal.
    2. schwag always helps- as funny as it sounds, you cannot underestimate the value of giving away free stuff at meetings. making a raffle out of it just became standard policy for our CFUG.
    3. get good speakers but also invite speakers from within- it’s always good to have prominent speakers come but the show & tell meetings (where we encourage a few people within the group to show off their talents) have been some of the most memorable and productive meetings we’ve ever had.
    4. your meetings are only as good as how they change people- remembering this fact is probably the single thing you can do that will most improve your group. Align everything you do with the question of “what can we do differently tonight that will ensure this info gets used and makes a behavioral change for the attendees?”
    other than that, i think you nailed it with your list. Check out the latest initiative I’m involved with-> http://www.Grid7Labs.com. According to my business mentor (her words), “you guys realize you are going to change the way _work_ is done.”
    -sean

  65. SKY TG24 "Reporter Diffuso" February 19, 2006 at 6:39 am - Reply

    Come creare una community

    Kawasaky ha un post da leggere in questa piovosa domenica su come si crea una community. Alcuni buoni spunti di riflesisone. Link: Let the Good Times Roll–by Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Creating a Community

  66. Ken Keller February 19, 2006 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Several years ago, in 2000, my brother and I were in Cupertino taking a week-long class given by 4D, a pre-cursor to re-writing the application that his business runs on.
    While we were there, we noticed that the 4D User Group meeting was being held that week at Apple’s campus.
    This gave us a chance to do two interesting things while out there. We went to the UG meeting and found that the president of 4D, Brendan Coveney was there to provide a briefing of future developments. It was a lot fun. As an added bonus, numerous people went out for dinner afterward at a nice mandarin restaurant and Brendan picked up the tab.
    Everybody was very gracious and we had a good time.

  67. Christian Sarkar February 19, 2006 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Guy- I enjoyed your post and I must say I totally agree with your eight points. Here’s some more food for thought. You’ve described what I call a “product” community, i.e. the ecosystem of users and abusers that forms organically around a great product.
    My question is: “Is it possible to build a community around an interest or a topic, and then use it as a platform to develop products, services, and experiences -co-creating value with your community members?”
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’ve discussed it with John Hagel and the late John Rheinfrank. I even have a sketch for it here: http://www.christiansarkar.com/2006/02/building_a_digital_business_pl.htm [click on the diagram!]
    Finally, for companies that don’t have the resources to build a full blown community (and believe me, Guy, it takes more than one dedicated geek) the quick-start way to community is blogging.
    I spoke about this in some detail in the book “Blog! How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business and Culture” by David Kline and Dan Burstein…
    see article at http://www.doubleloopmarketing.com

  68. Tim Bouton February 22, 2006 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Guy, I like the idea that …your product has to be “customizable,” “extensible,” and “malleable.” We are looking to create a community experience using podcasting to “break up” and “enhance” our blues harmonica instruction by adding user feedback, student interviews, and “live” performance recordings along with downloadable pdfs at:
    www.harmonicast.com
    Great post. btw, I bought my first Mac thru Apple’s Own-A-Mac program, remember that?

  69. Michael Horton February 23, 2006 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Guy. Thanks for the great topic. Forgive me for the length of this “comment,” but here goes. It’s the story of how Apple did it right in creating community around Final Cut Pro.
    I started a community almost 6 years ago surrounding Apple’s Final Cut Pro (FCP) non linear editing software. If I’ve learned one thing about creating a successful and flourishing community, it is that it needs an organic genesis. What’s an organic genesis you ask? Good question. It’s something that just happens. Take FCP for example. Apple creates a great product and prices it perfectly. Independent filmmakers take notice especially because of the price. A film editor in Los Angeles (Larry Jordan, in between jobs) hears about this new software and creates a web site (2-pop.com) to discuss it. On a whim, Larry then calls up a fellow on the FCP team and asks him if someone there might monitor the discussion forum and answer a few technical questions that are sure to come up.
    Now – in what can only be called a watershed event in the history of Apple customer relations, Apple said “sure,” and gave that task to Ralph Fairweather who at that time worked on the FCP Quality Control team. As far as I know it was the first time Apple ever did that and the last time too. In hindsight it was a brilliant marketing move. Anyway, within one month everyone who had heard about FCP began clicking over to 2-pop.com because they heard someone from the FCP team was on the forum and answering questions and taking feedback. And within 2 months a community of FCP users and wannabe FCP users began meeting in this forum almost daily. We all felt a bit special because we were all pioneers at the beginning of this thing called the “Digital Revolution.” We not only solved each others problems but shared our successes. Leaders and experts began to emerge from this forum. Ralph didn’t have to answer as many questions as before. Tutorials began to be posted almost weekly. And, as is often the case on discussion forums, many of us became friends.
    Inevitably the subject of User Groups came up. It was time to get off the internet and meet each other face to face. San Francisco (SF Cutters) was the first to hold a meeting then other cities immediately followed.
    Did Apple take notice? You bet they did. Did they identify the “thunderlizards” who began to emerge? Sure. Did they recruit these thunderlizards? No. And damn good thing they didn’t.
    The Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group (lafcpug) began in June of 2000 in a small room in Burbank with about 40 people attending all of whom met on 2-pop.com. 2 fellows from the FCP team in LA showed up unannounced. Apple didn’t send them. They just heard about the meeting and showed up. They gave us their card and said, call if you need us, and that was that. We were flattered they showed up but would rather they hadn’t. Kind of hard to “bitch and moan” in front of the folks who make the product, and our meetings often do just that. But they were great guys who agreed with all of our bitching and moaning and it was nice to have that face to face contact with a couple of folks from the product team. And also nice to know some of our bitching and moaning was human error on our part, not theirs. We learned a great deal that night and was grateful.
    Did Apple ever ask us to create a FCP User Group in hopes of growing this community? No. If they did, we’d never have done it despite the flattering request. We simply happened. You just can’t ask a group of professionals who make their living off this stuff to, (in this particular case) “shill” for a multi billion dollar company. It’s one reason why lafcpug is not an official Apple UG nor are we evangelical, despite the product name in the title. We exist to help each other out and advocate for improvements of this product on behalf of all FCP users. That’s pretty much it. However, because we do exist, Apple has benefited I think. We make people feel safe in their purchase of this sophisticated software. We offer a place to go to try and get your problems solved and above all, we offer human contact on a scale no large corporation can possibly do.
    Gosh, I’d love to be able to start a company and create a great product, but to create community around that great product is something that seems, to me at least, be something that just happens. You can identify the “thunderlizards’ easily but pay heed to rule 6. Don’t get so close to those thunderlizards as to make them feel morally obligated to toe YOUR line. They’ll be gone in a heartbeat and take the community with them.
    As far as lafcpug is concerned, (which now boasts a membership of over 4500 FCP users world wide and hosts monthly meetings that attract between 200 and 300 people and national “SuperMeets” that attract over 1000 people) Apple has been nothing short of perfect. They support us when we need the support and leave us alone the rest of the time. They NEVER ask anything of us and certainly never demand anything of us. They did list us on their web site so I guess they they paid attention to rule 8. Its been a sweet relationship so far and a lot of credit goes to the FCP Marketing team, who must of read Guy’s 8 rules for Creating Community.
    Michael Horton
    lafcpug

  70. Customer Blog Demo February 24, 2006 at 6:26 am - Reply

    Building Online Communities

    I’m a big fan of blog , but particularly liked his post on The Art of Creating a Community .

  71. Customer Blog Demo February 24, 2006 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Building Online Communities

    I’m a big fan of Guy Kawasaki ‘s blog , but particularly liked his post on The Art of Creating a Community . Involving your customers or consumers in your business can deliver great benefits, but you need to be aware of the commitment you must give …

  72. Community Guy February 26, 2006 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    The Customer Interaction Manifesto

    It’s here – The Customer Interaction Manifesto! (Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the inspiration)

  73. Ashvil's Blog February 27, 2006 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community – by Guy Kawasaki

    Guy Kawasaki has some great points on building a community.
    Create something worth building a community around.
    Identify and recruit your thunderlizards—immediately!
    Assign one person the task …

  74. Laura Ricci March 1, 2006 at 9:20 am - Reply

    This post helped inspire “Laura’s Ideas: Two Steps for Change” for the potential evangelist and those who might suffer the knee jerk reaction to stop them.
    Jeremiah Oywang posted a link to yours, which I followed.

  75. NAI SAECHAO March 5, 2006 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    as much as I love your books and appreciate the ability to discuss the topics here – are you basically going to re-publish them as blog entries here now?

  76. Guy Kawasaki March 5, 2006 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Nai,
    The honest answer is, “I don’t know.” Eventually, every topic I’ve covered in my books will be covered in this blog.
    However, I do not simply copy and paste from my manuscripts into the blog. Also, things like the GBAT and Adam Lashinsky’s interview are brand new.
    If you think that reading this blog is a waste of time because you’ve read my books, then you will be disappointed if you’re expecting all new material.
    Guy

  77. Anonymous March 7, 2006 at 3:49 am - Reply

    The Art of Creating a Community

    Another excellent article from guykawasaki.com. With so many community sites failing these days, this article is very useful for anyone contemplating starting a forum or any onlin community.

  78. Theo March 8, 2006 at 12:16 am - Reply

    Intresting.
    Good insight. User value is the key. Like you say, if you do not have a great product forgett it. I am wondering is the community market saturated or are we in the begining?

  79. Church Marketing Sucks April 13, 2006 at 9:23 am - Reply

    What Web 2.0 Means for Your Church

    Web 2.0 is the latest rage. It’s on the cover of Newsweek and everyone is speculating if it’s the revenge of the dot com boom. This is the beginning of an multi-part series on web. 2.0 and what it could mean for the church. What is Web 2.0? It depends …

  80. Max Kann April 19, 2006 at 4:14 am - Reply

    I like your books!!! Thank you for your blog!!!

  81. gomes blog April 25, 2006 at 2:00 am - Reply

    gomez article

    it’s my opinion on that theme

  82. Church Marketing Sucks April 25, 2006 at 8:43 am - Reply

    What Web 2.0 Means for Your Church

    Web 2.0 is the latest rage. It’s on the cover of Newsweek and everyone is speculating if it’s the revenge of the dot com boom. This is the beginning of an multi-part series on web. 2.0 and what it could mean for the church. What is Web 2.0? It depends …

  83. Hayden Craddolph April 27, 2006 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Your article is great and ” The Importance of Online Communities” is my next chapter in my thesis. If anyone knows of any other great sources, please send them my way. Please check out my community at haydenfilms.com that I started and give feedback.

  84. Innovation Creators May 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    WordPress Winning Search Mind Share Over MovableType

    I was checking out Google’s fancy new tool, Google Trends. Just for kicks, I compared Movable type (MT), WordPress, TypePad, Live Journal, and Blogspot. Here are the results: Blogging Software Battle for Mind Share Matt, Toni, congratulations on doing …

  85. Christoph C. Cemper July 6, 2006 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Hi,
    great article…
    my master thesis is just about
    Improving online communities member motivation
    proceeding with the concepts and plans on how to do the thesis I just created a little post about it here
    http://www.marketingfan.com/a/communities/how-to-motivate-online-community-members.php
    I still need to find a lot of participating webmasters/community owners to help me conducting the online research survey (anonymous) among their users…
    so I would greatly appreciate it, if you help me with it and pass this on to fellow webmasters, community owners and other people that might know such…
    Community owners could gain a lot of useful information and research about their specific user base… (before I conclude general insights in my master thesis I have to do single evaluations of the participating communities!)
    Of course a mention somewhere in your blogs or sites … that would help me out a lot as well…
    Please let me know and best regards
    Christoph

  86. Brian Turner July 9, 2006 at 3:04 am - Reply

    The trouble with building communities is that you really need the right people to build them. While the points raised are interesting ideals, the simple truth is that the wrong people leading such communities could have a very negative impact on any associated branding.
    Anyone associated with forums and communities is probably familiar with places where admins are too strict and unfriendly, admins are too busy and fail to keep the forum organised, and there’s also the problem of cliques forming which can additionally damage the new user experience.
    You may find this list more useful:
    http://www.platinax.co.uk/44-successful-forum/#tips
    and a number of forum admins advise each other here:
    http://www.theadminzone.com/forums/
    IMO, any business serious about working with a developing community for presence online needs to do so and organise it from the start, with persons known and seen to have good experience managing online communities.
    2c.

  87. Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist July 11, 2006 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Brokeback Redmond

  88. Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist July 11, 2006 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Communities are Music Festivals

  89. Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist July 11, 2006 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Communities are Music Festivals

  90. BESTNOVA August 3, 2006 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Great article! It is on my favs!! How’s this for a title, “Communities, It Takes a Village”.

  91. tudy Shows Drug August 25, 2006 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Does Aspirin Benefit Men and Women Differently?

    tudy Shows Drug Doesn’t Provide Equal Protection for Heart Disease

  92. Digital Digressions September 4, 2006 at 4:22 am - Reply

    The Power of the Community

    Just back on the Red-Eye from Vienna, Virginia, US – the location for the 2006 Brickfest, an annual gathering of LEGO enthusiasts and an absolutely superb event tying together the LEGO Group with its vast community. Three full-on days of awe-inspiring …

  93. Shop Optimierung December 1, 2006 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    A very interesting site, I think. The Idea of Technometry was new for me but worth to be read and thought abot it (although I’m not a native english-speaker and have some difficulties whith this language)

  94. Bob Rae December 12, 2006 at 7:04 am - Reply

    I’ve taken a quick look at your postings, which are very interesting. Lots of material and ideas! Congrats on being so focused!
    The advice given in your blog is fantastic and very complimentary to my site, check it out http://racemotion.org

  95. Casey combden December 31, 2006 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    Great comments! I’ve built a 250,000 people business network and it’s amazing how similiar the prinicples are. Thanks for your thoughts, Casey combden

  96. Belevenissen January 10, 2007 at 2:04 am - Reply

    How to change the world

    Guy Kawasaki is een entrepeneur met hele leuke ideeen voor ondernemers en investeerders (hij is beide). Er is veel te lezen op How to change the world A practical blog for impractical people. Guy heeft ook een aantal boeken op zijn naam waaronder The a…

  97. Ideas & actions January 10, 2007 at 9:00 am - Reply

    How to Change the World:

    The Art of Creating a Community…

  98. Freestyle January 13, 2007 at 5:26 am - Reply

    L’Art de créer une communauté

    Guy Kawasaki, le sémillant évangéliste d’Apple, décrit dans un billet « l’Art de créer une communauté ». Ce thème est particulièrement important pour les entreprises qui lancent à grande échelle des produits adoptés par les technophiles :

  99. Rod Trent January 25, 2007 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Interesting post — someone just emailed me the link. We’ve (myITforum.com) been doing these exact things (and more) since 2001. They definitely work, which is why we are so successful.

  100. Vindoura February 7, 2007 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki über Communities

    Ja, von diesem Menschen kann man noch Einiges lernen. Wen die englische Sprache nicht abschreckt, sollte unbedingt regelmäßig den Blog von Guy Kawasaki lesen. Gut, seine Ausführungen zur Art of Creating a Community beziehen sich haupts…

  101. Jan February 10, 2007 at 2:06 am - Reply

    Thank you Guy. My sponsored group, Jaz Jets, is a new community, this information will be educational to the lead Jet.

  102. local buyer gordon March 1, 2007 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I think it is really important to be open to what people don’t like about what you are doing. too often groups fail because the founder isn’t open to the end result being anything other than exactly what the founder wanted. you give people a framework and see what they do with it.

  103. Richard.H's Blog March 6, 2007 at 3:42 am - Reply

    Recent society events

    GCR Election of Ustinov College
    Tonight is the election of new GCR (Graduate Common Room) in Ustinov College. Im not a college member, but I know one of the two candidates who are electing for president and he spent a lot of effort for this elec…

  104. Affordable Internet Marketing Blog May 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    WordPress membership plugin

    If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my Updates at the right or to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Some people have asked me how to build a membership site using WordPress for content management.
    And my answer usually is to buy a membersh…

  105. MySpace Backgorund May 12, 2007 at 7:55 am - Reply

    This is really true ?? if yes i can use this is metod thx u man!

  106. ConsultantExchange - A HotGigs blog May 14, 2007 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Are we a community yet?

    Thriving user communities, whether online or offline, don’t come ready-made — some assembly is required. Actually, make that a considerable bit of assembly, done largely by the community members themselves. And it’s not something that can be scheduled…

  107. Patrick May 27, 2007 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Here, you can create your own community. It’s easy and takes moments, plus me.com networks all these communities which makes browsing through the specialty niche easy as pie and it’s full featured, best part free.

  108. Gene June 4, 2007 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Great post. Quick comment. I just wanted to share that creating a website worth building a community around is only a small step. I created wellness related site (www.NYWellnessGuide.com) with forums, polls, blogs and other tools to build health community around. Up to this point I got wonderful feedback and comments, however without big investments, the site has been growing rather slowly. This is a personal project and I put a lot of time and effort, but the days when “build it and they will come” are long over.

  109. Forsikringsselskaber June 21, 2007 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Thanks for great advise again!!

  110. Admin Blog June 21, 2007 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Reasons to Build this site.

    As Ive been thinking of creating this website Ive been doing a lot of reading on building online

  111. Kermit Williams August 13, 2007 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    The house that can save life one day in wake of twisters,floods, even fires dont try to macth the design or system documented for further developments a safty house concepted for extreme storm actions DURSTORM INVEST IN ME! a marvel and can be of interest your see a better house and affordable too! can be on the market one day concepted out of plastic rubber and your like the inside the ladys will kick you out your own house and take over this is for them as well a new type of house can do many things DURSTORM is just that the inventor lives in east chicago Indiana one day you wont look at them other homes saying that wont work the ladys wont to have fun and a house is it! real ladys will like this you cant hide nothing if she got the code thats right you got to have a code to even get into this house what if your lady own or rent this type of house you cant abuse her or him that code go to 911 when you close the door if you own it a house that can be of interest thiers more .

  112. Ryan Lee October 2, 2007 at 9:49 am - Reply

    So, if you build this great community with deep purpose, how do you get the critical mass there without spending much on advertising/marketing?
    Thoughts?

  113. Clint October 16, 2007 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Just came across this, great article.
    Have been involved in the development of a new local online community recently and a lot of this rings true for me.

  114. xgabara March 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    So true in 2006 …as well as in 2016….

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