The Community Club

Robert Niimi
Robert Niimi

Posted on

How to manage conflict between pressure to grow with community health?

I'm working on a community-driven company and so far the growth in active users, number of posts, and engagement have all been good. However, we plan to raise from investors in the near future and realized that there's a natural conflict between accelerating user growth and the community health.

If you've been in this situation, how did you manage to grow the community quickly without degrading the community itself? Founders, if you avoided the "growth at all costs" route, what KPI's did you use to convince investors instead of active users / # of posts?

Allowing the community to break into more granular categories and topics as the number of users grows is already on the roadmap.

Discussion (2)

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tolstoshev profile image
Nicholas Tolstoshev

When I'm pressured to drive growth beyond what's feasible, I let the leadership know that a community is like a garden. You have to plant the seeds, water, fertilize, and be patient for the natural growth process. You can't magically make the plants grow faster.

And even if you could magically make thousands of people show up by snapping your fingers, it would be chaos. You need time to build the culture, establish rituals, and have a base of power users to preserve the culture. A community operates at a human time scale.

This isn't something transactional like sales where you can pump more money into leads, advertising and sales people.

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Ben Halpern

You have to be confident in your longterm vision. Growing DEV, there are always opportunities for growth in a certain type of engagement (Toxic interactions produce a lot of "engagement").

I think there are opportunities to say like this:

We understand how to grow, but we also understand that growth in this field sometimes has to be done in a measured and deliberate way. We anticipate the best longterm success if we ensure that we focus on quality over quantity while we continue to explore what shape unfettered growth can take.

The metric you might want to rally around might be regular NPS-type surveilling in order to deliver on the idea of quality over quantity, but I think getting buy-in is as much about establishing trust as picking the right numbers. Give yourself the opportunity to have a longer leash. (This might include not raising funds right now.)