Hi, Rafy here.
This is Uncommunity’s bi-weekly newsletter. We bring you community experts interviews, resources related to building and growing communities, tools that you can use to scale your community or events and books that you can read to become better community builders and jobs to be applied.
She needs no Introduction.
If you’ve ever played the game Among Us then you know who I’m talking about. Victoria Tran is the Community Director at Innersloth (the team behind Among Us.) Previously she worked at Kitfox Games as Communications Director. She love exploring ways on how to create intentional, better, and more compassionate online communities.
It is genuinely a miracle games are shipped at all. Games are complicated things, and some of the most successful games integrate community managers and developers early on in the prototyping process - and sometimes even from the very beginning! Because games depend on communities forming around them in order to survive and thrive, having someone who has understood the process, the values, and the decisions that went behind the designs helps them communicate that to the players. It also encourages design decisions that help the game market itself and scale in the long run.
I think that's something all industries can take from the way games build their communities. That is: from the very beginning, integrate a dedicated community manager's work, opinion, and ideas into a product. The more we understand and believe in what the company has built, the better we can champion it and spread that knowledge to our communities. And if you let us in as part of the design process? Then we'll come armed with the knowledge of how we can better set up the brand for long term success.
I've written extensively about this, and while it mainly pertains to gaming communities, there is quite a bit of crossover. Mainly that as community leaders, we're the role models and designers for the types of experiences we want to create for our community. In order to design for better, more positive online experiences, there's a certain structure we can follow.
First - we need to establish solid rules and guidelines for interacting within our communities. This is the bare minimum, the base of how our community will interact with each other. Then comes creating respectful boundaries, and then establishing norms. Norms are important because, unlike rules, they're less defined and often sit in the grey area of human interactions. What is considered polite, and what isn't? Being the role model for these instances is important because you will naturally attract people that resonate with your values. After that, we go into trust, which helps facilitate cooperation, and then finally a sense of "home". This is vital for establishing close, personal experiences among members. The more integrated someone is in a space, the more they care about it and want to help make it a better, pleasant place as new members come in. Read the extended piece here.
The best communities aren't just neutral. They're joyful, memorable, and full of moments people look back fondly on. It's easy to get caught up in the motions of just counting metrics - are we growing, how's engagement, what's the community sentiment, etc. Investing a bit of extra time into creating personal, fun moments creates a sense of connection that stems from feeling included and welcomed.
Charming communities isn’t only about that though — it helps integrate individuals into the community. When people first hear about your product and you, it doesn’t mean they’re a part of your community yet. It just means they know who you are. They may share a common interest in your product, but they may have no relationship or mutual concern for each other. No connection. And that’s not what a community is. That’s just an audience. And the way we get people from being just passive audiences members to loyal advocates is by putting in that time and energy into making them feel like they matter to us. Because they do! I dive into more strategies on how to charm communities here.
Don't get caught up in being perfect all the time, at all times. I love the FBR approach - Fast, Broken, and wRong. I've always been the person who learned the most from failure and knowing where and how to screw up means a lot, especially in such a public-facing role. So try making that TikTok account! Do a fan community contest! Got no views? Terrible growth? Great! Pick that apart. Why didn't it work? What is everyone else doing? Find others who have failed - what did they all have in common? People who are successful often have a lot of survivorship bias when it comes to their retelling their stories, but failure is usually specific and direct. Fail and experiment so that when you start to take on bigger projects, you're armed with knowledge that so many others are afraid of finding out for themselves.
Follow Victoria Tran on Twitter.
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