The word community is derived from the Latin communitas (meaning the same), which is in turn derived from communis, which means “common, public, shared by all or many. Makes perfect sense to me what makes a community thrive. Give the people what they want. What they want, is people that they have something in common with and then beyond that, an experience to share and talk and engage. If they can’t do those things because of things out of their control. They’ll go elsewhere.
Ironically, how many times have you seen companies stray from what they do best, in the hopes of making more money doing something that they might be marginal at? And then failing? They lose their customers in droves.
The examples are plentiful and graphic and yet it still happens over and over and over again. If we take online social networks and communities, the drive for market share and penetration is on the minds of the people that launch these things. It dominates their thoughts. But what sometimes occurrs, is they see what is being offered and feel they too must deliver what social network A is doing, and provide what platform B promises, etc etc..Losing sight perhaps, of the technology or offer or idealistic goals, that initially prompted them to get in the game in the first place!
The one problem is, rather than trying to do one thing very very well, they do a lot of things that are somewhat average.
Case in point. McDonalds, we have all eaten there but why? A) because they brand the hell out of the product better than anyone and B) you always know what to expect-consistency. Keep the comments about consistently bad to yourself- but the point being they have strived to do those 2 things well while concentrating on their core business- Hamburgers. Yes they test and launch different products to cater to the whims and desires of a more health conscious public, but at the end of the day they are still dancing with the partner that got them there. Hamburgers. The McDonalds community revolves around-Hamburgers. Billions and Billions Served.
A word to all of the designers, entrepreneurs and architects of these new shiny online social networks and communities: Do one thing right and make it repeatable. First and foremost, being the community, with the communities best interests at heart. Yes we like bells and whistles, and yes they are sexy, but when all is said and done, if it doesn’t work or fails to deliver, our ever decreasing attention span will lead us back to the things, the sites and the tools that we know will deliver day in and day out. Make it consistent, make it repeatable and make sure it delivers without fail.
If you give me what I came here for and it’s exactly what I expected, I will come back. And if it is exactly the way it was the first time, not only will I come back, but I will tell my friends. But if you fail me, not only will I tell my friends, I will tell people that I don’t even know about the bad experience.