Revenue: The value of creating a community first

Ted S

Tazmanian Master
Feb 19, 2004
Ted S submitted a new Article:

Revenue: The value of creating a community first

When it comes to building a successful site, never underestimate the power of community tools. Most commercial sites turn out being static pages with little or no user interaction, this means users come for one thing and one thing alone, to check out your sales pitch. This seems fine but in truth it is not. Community features not only keep users coming to your site but they also help bring in new users. If your site focuses on travel and you have 200 people a day posting about travel that means you have 200 potential clients who you can advertise to for free. If you are uncertain of the value of a community driven site just look at coffee stores; Starbucks, Pete's and most every other coffee house have thrived for years by harnessing the power of a community setting. At this moment hundreds of people are crammed around small tables doing all sorts of things. Some people come and study for hours, others chat with friends, while some simply walk in for a quick purchase. By allowing people to relax and chat Starbucks has increased every customer's visit duration. Online or offline a higher visit duration means more sales. Customers who walk into a Starbucks intending just chat with a friend will likely end up buying something before they leave. People coming to the store for a buy-and-go sale will feel more comfortable in the relaxed environment and are far more likely to come back again.

Online you are not limited to mere chat and studying; Internet community tools can provide users with multitudes of features. Message boards, chat systems and email lists are used to connect users interested in your niche; classified ads attract people already looking to purchase; free email or web pages brands your name with every message or page view and the list goes on. While there are nearly an endless number of community tools that a site can use to keep users coming back they can all be broken down into two general categories.

  1. Your first set of community tools allow users to interact with each other. From message boards to chat rooms, email lists, classifieds ads, polls, and much more, users create a very visible community. As your community grows, more and more users come to your site to participate. If the community is good, users may spend hours on your site which means hours seeing your ads and your name. A well planned community is run by the site owners in a passive way -- administrators never push the...

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