Community Building Websites

Community building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of community among individuals within a regional area or with a common interest. It is sometimes encompassed under the field of community development. Building a community can increase an individuals well being while also reducing negative impacts on them. 

Successful online community building is connecting a group of people online and making them feel a part of something special.  The common interest is the first level of the group bonding.   The better you get to know and like your fellow members the more you participate and thus work towards a successful goal.  Your role is to create an environment, through both your mass and micro (one to one) communications, that facilitates this.  This also means designing your community that reflects both the common interest and the individual contributions as equals. Half your community might be about developments on the topic, the other half should be about the contributions of members. 

Aim for slow, steady growth and a high level of participation from each member. As you grow you can begin focusing your attention on the key members and recruiting volunteers to help develop the community. 

To build a successful community building website, you need to start by identifying what it is you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. Then you focus on the people you want to reach. What do they value?  What are the topical issues here? Who are the big influencers? What are their personalities and motivations for participating online?

Now put this together and answer what type of online community will it be? What’s the big appeal? What do members need from the interface? How soon can you launch? After you have figured out the answers to all these questions, it's time to start your community building website.  Always start small and then build from a strong foundation, encourage members to get to know each other and build relationships.

There are four fundamental elements that a community building website should provide to its members:

  1. Sense of belonging. Members get to feel they are somewhere where they belong.  They’re simply places where members can finally be themselves – more individualistic. They have security and the feeling of being included as a member of a group.
  2. Mutual support. They can receive support from others with the power to give such support. They help people handle major life problems or open up new opportunities such as jobs and provide resources that members otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
  3. Greater influence. Knowing they are participating in a group that has a bigger influence than they alone could have. High levels of self-efficacy and self-worth. Communities also allow members to have more influence over other people.
  4. Exploration. They allow members to explore things with each other they previously wouldn’t have been able to. New ideas, resources, experiences are shared and discussed

If your community is providing all these four key elements, then you have successfully completed your mission.