Community-as-a-product creators can create a lot of value for their customers simply by creating a high barrier of entry to their premium communities.
I call it the "Self-fulfilling Prophecy Effect of Premium Communities".
- The high barrier of entry attracts serious participants
- who create lots of value for each other
- thus justifying the high barrier of entry
Unlike other traditional products, it works because a lot of the community's value is created by its members (the customers).
So, as a creator, you increase your product's value by increasing your members' output.
There are 2 ways in which high barrier of entry helps in increasing your members' output:
Members can be sure that everyone around is serious about the purpose of the community.
This makes it easy for them to let their guards down.
By spending effort to get in, members become invested. They want to get their effort's worth.
And with a community, you get what you put in.
One of the reasons On Deck communities work is simply because there's a high cost of admission ($2000-$5000).
On top of this, fellows go through an interview where they need to convince the program director that they can be positive contributors in the On Deck community.
This gets fellows invested.
Invested enough that they participate in the fellowship despite having a full-time job.
They take out >5 hours out of their time every week to
- interact with other fellows
- participate in sessions
- build group projects
But the barrier doesn't have to be monetary though.
In fact, YCombinator pays you money to be a part of their cohorts.
But they put the barrier at the application process and take only those candidates who can show that they are highly motivated and relentless.
You can have similar non-monetary, proof-of-work type barriers to make your community exclusive yet, accessible.
I build community during the day and reflect about my day at night. Follow me on Twitter to check out my latest thoughts on community building. ;)