Why would introverts want to build an online community?
After all, aren’t they geared towards living inside their world as parties of one?
And although social media is supposed to be social, introverts may not find it pleasant or even civil at times.
Introverts creating an insider’s circle where normalized civility and intellectualism exist may be an excellent reason to consider building an online community.
Melanie Bond, former manager of Strategic Services at Higher Logic, suggested that:
At its root, an online community or internet community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who use the internet to communicate with each other. Online communities have guidelines and needs, like online community engagement, moderation, and management.
Introverts who build online communities would become de facto leaders and provide direction through their bodies of work.
The introspection and self-awareness of introverts afford that communities are formed to solve problems rather than foment dissension with unresearched options.
What is the long-term value of introverts building online communities?
Researchers Arthur Armstrong and John Hagel III said:
The notion of community has been at the heart of the Internet since its inception. For many years, scientists have used the Internet to share data, collaborate on research, and exchange messages. In essence, scientists formed interactive research communities that existed not on a physical campus but on the Internet….
The long-term value of introverts building online communities is a strategic maneuver to create a world inside of a world.
All introverts are not created alike. So online communities should be structured around core ideas, objectives, and principles.
Generally, introverts are inwardly driven, but this commonality may be the only component shared with other introverts.
Like any tribe, online communities provide a sense of belonging in a splintered world. Such a venue allows introverts to commune at their will quietly.
An investment of time and energy in building an online community is similar to building a business. The community may grow past the scope of its founder and take on a life of its own. This could benefit the idea that people support what they help create.
How do you build an online community?
Building an online community is like building a business minus the required legal paperwork.
Establishing an online community should have an administrator, web developer, and copywriter.
In many instances, one person can fill these roles if they possess the necessary skills.
An administrator who knows the basics of creating a blog on WordPress and can write engaging content can begin building a community right away.
Here is a step-by-step process to consider:
Decide on the online community’s name.
Ideally, an online community’s name should entail the objective of the community and the people its geared towards. An online community named “The Strategic Introvert” suggests that the objective would be for introverts to maneuver in a preplanned fashion to attain a personal or professional objective.
Such a name should be attractive to any introvert looking to enhance their strategic thinking and planning skills.
By being specific, the name of an online community outlines who it’s designed for and who it is not designed for.
Indeed, interested parties may be welcomed, but there is misalignment if members are not attuned to the stated objectives.
Identify the objectives of the online community.
The name of the online community may articulate a stated audience and its intentions, but objectives and rules must be fleshed out.
Suppose important information is requested to be shared. In that case, one of the rules might be, “All and any information must meet the best practices of an industry-standard or have reliable sources furnished.” Additionally, it may need to be stated that all correspondence maintains a civil tone and adheres to goodwill protocol.
Any information shared should refer to its objectives if a community is geared towards strategic introverts. A quote from Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power” would be appropriate. A meme from Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” may not be.
Choose a platform for the online community.
Fortunately, choosing a platform for an online community in today’s society is easy. You can create a blog or form a group on Facebook or LinkedIn.
If you choose to create a blog, you can develop a distinct feel and personality for the site.
However, platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have their objectives and personalities.
Facebook has a leisurely or casual appeal. Although it allows business opportunities, LinkedIn is a better platform if an online community is business-oriented.
Your choice will depend on the mindset you think potential members will be in when they decide to join the community. Will they be in a fun and festive mood? Or a professional and business-like manner?
Indicate what activities are acceptable.
Many times, activities arise that were not imagined during the start of the community. For example, members might have begun merely sharing information, and now they are buying and selling products and services among members. Organic networking and collaborations are expected to occur, but are there limits?
What are the rules if the community allows products and services to be bought and sold within the community?
Members cannot be unfairly punished when they have not been educated on what is a natural outgrowth when people congregate.
It is essential to manage expectations in all endeavors.
Determine if the online community will adopt a business model as it grows.
There may come a time when the online community transitions from introverts merely communing and sharing information to a potential revenue-generating entity.
Once the community members number into the thousands, will the administrator allow advertisement sponsorships?
It is an excellent possibility that corporations may be interested in buying advertisement space on your community page. Is this part of the long-term plan, or did you promise it would always be a nonprofit site?
Opportunism and profitability do not have to be negative connotations if this was part of the growth plan for the community.
The greed and selfishness of human nature can never be ruled out when an initiative becomes successful.
It would help if you planned for all foreseeable opportunities without narrow-minded blind spots.
This is the best time in the annals of history for introverts to live and find people of their caliber who share their ideas.
Take matters into your hands today by creating an inner circle that grows with the needs of its members.
You will be glad you did.
Armstrong, A, and Hagel, J. (1996, May-June). The real value of online communities. Harvard Business Review: Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3ON8QP8.
Bond, M. (n.d.). What is an online community? The basics & benefits. Higher Logic. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3ktUXrk.