Grow my community

Honestly Lucy, you’re nailing it. Community is a long game. I usually tell people it takes a min of 6 months to reach critical mass.

Do you have internal targets that aren’t being met?

Hmmmmm I don’t agree. 20 people is tiny even for a beta testing group in a brand community. Your use case is very different.


Maybe “community” isn’t always the most accurate word to describe a discourse site or other communications platform like this. If the goal is for there to be a lot of members at 2,000 +, that can become an overwhelming amount of people so it isn’t always possible to communicate as well when there are so many different individuals that becomes more than a single community.


I can think of lots of Discourse communities with 2000 members or even more. I don’t think you’d be going round for dinner, but I still think you can have meaningful connections with lots of people when you’re all sharing conversation and knowledge around a mutual interest.


“Community” is a very flexible word… in commerce it often seems to mean “all the users of this product” with the idea that they will help each other to some extent, and so reduce the support cost or improve the sense of there being value in the product. In marketing it can mean “all the people in this market segment that we’ve identified.”

Personally I prefer to use it when I mean “a group of people who share some circumstance and are by default well-disposed to one another and likely to interact positively.”

In a discourse context I might be more likely to speak of my userbase.


That is a good definition I like that one.


If you think of a community as a group of people where everyone knows everyone else, 400 people is impractically large. You’ll need to ignore people somehow. In practice though, many of those 400 people aren’t visible because they don’t (yet?) contribute. Even with thousands of contributors people naturally organize themselves into manageably-sized communities. (Sometimes they line up with category boundaries, but not always.)

In my experience, the larger the group the more important it is to have software to guide people. Small groups can use all sorts of sub-optimal tools because they can rely on each other to do the right thing. It’s when communities (maybe better to call them societies or just groups) get larger they start needing something (governments, culture, forum software, whathaveyou) to keep things in order. One of the reasons Discourse communities often need more than 20 people to thrive is that it’s overkill for groups that small.


We’re already doing that.


Sorry for replying late. We set up the goal of reaching 4,000 members within a year. It’s been more than 3 months and we only achieved 10% of that goal. We’re seeing an exponential growth in terms of engagement every month but it’s still not huge compared to other forums in our industry. Of course, these forums have existed for years… but I just wish we would see more meaningful posts, like people sharing their struggles with current projects rather than just asking kind of generic questions or replying to existing threads.


Yes, I agree. I see that happening on other forums with thousands of members.


To give you some perspective, 400 very active members is an incredible achievement after only 3 months. Community building is long game – it can take more than a year to reach critical mass.

There are strategies that you can use to stimulate the kind of engagement that you are hoping for – I’d definitely recommend doing as much reading as you can at Feverbee.


Hi Lucy,

In addition to the advice given above, I took a quick look and had some questions :slight_smile:

  • Why did you set a target of 4000 members? Is that a percentage of your product users?
  • I noticed that you aren’t indexed by google at all

    You also seem to have a modified robots.txt and are returning x-robots-tag: noindex, nofollow in the request headers.
    Is this on purpose?
  • What is your target audience? Is it existing customers or prospects?
  • What do you expect your audience to get out of participating in your community. What is your main competition for that interaction?

Yes, it’s a percentage of our website visitors.

Both. We want our customers to benefit from the forum while also generating new leads.

Help with their projects from both the community and our in-house engineers. I’d say one of our biggest competitors would be All About Circuits.

Good point, will do that. Thx


I think this might be a problem.

Customers have vastly different needs than prospects. I think you would do well to focus on one of them explicitly.
That doesn’t mean you exclude or forget about the other, but making sure you optimize for one, will make certain design decisions a lot easier.

So I would suggest you make a very splashy banner that explains that. Currently you have a fairly modest “Need help with your design? Sign up and get answers to your questions.”
I would make that much more explicit. Similar to what your company does on their main website:

And what do they do differently? What is your USP compared to theirs?


Done. Thanks.

I didn’t give the full explanation but yes our customers and prospects have similar needs they can solve with the platform. I meant to say that the forum caters to everyone, whether they’re customers or not.


Sending out invitations can also help, if you have mailing lists of people you can send invitations to.

1 Like

Yes we’ve already done that and we’re doing nurtures. How many times and how often do you think we could send invites?

1 Like

Uh, well probably as often as you want to, just so long as people have an option to unsubscribe from the mailing list. Maybe once or twice a month would be good schedule to start with, or just once for when new people sign up could be enough.

Have been very surprised by how few sign ups there have been for few new sites launched about six months ago, while have told a lot of people about those sites and given out flyers with the address, most people just seem confused by those and don’t even consider any reason why they might want to sign up for an account at a discourse forum site it seems.

Or what is the purpose, for those sites are primarily about activism for better housing in Washington state and B.C. Canada, but still in early stages of getting established so better outreach communication has a ways to go for that.

For invitations with discourse that seems to be one at a time the way they are set up, then you can send a custom message or general explanation about the site and why you are sending an invitation.

2,000 people isn’t that many, I’ll bet you’ll make it to that within the next couple years or so, if not sooner!


Can send bulk invites


Bulk invitations could help a lot to build member base, depending on who all you can send that out to. Some companies send out mass mailings to registered companies in a specific industry, I don’t know if there are registries for your field what your company does.

I usually report those e-mails as spam but technically those companies do have a right to send out mailings like that. For me that is cost estimating companies wanting building companies to send them blueprints for construction projects to sell estimates for construction costs, they use A.I. systems for that.


In summer it is eternal daylight, not darkness. “Eternal” here meaning all day and night for the season, so more seasonal darkness/light. That is for Iceland at least, Finland is an Eastern and more Southern as well as more northern country from there.

Badges are very important for many people!!


Few other things for wanting more people to sign up with the Sierra Connect site, just created an account there and these are fairly strict requirements for phone number, company name, first and last name, etc., plus there is nowhere posted an explanation of what “PCB” stands for. Took awhile to research that and now looks like that is an abbreviation for “Printed Circuit Board.”

Reducing the amount of necessary personal information for new people to sign up might help to get more members, but then there is risk of more spammer accounts potentially.