Nora Abousteit is a DLD-cofounder. She's been with the conference series since 2005 and reinvented an old sewing magazine into the DIY fashion community BurdaStyle.com . Today, she is sharing her tactics for building a (successful) community in a workshop.
To begin, she asks why communities matter. For Abousteit, the answer is because we live in an age of constant connectedness and because "more communities create more progress". Take the Blue Ride Group (Die Blauen Reiter), a group of artists whose collective effort was fundamental to expressionism.
Moving on to the how-to, her main piece of advice for community building is to create a platform for others to succeed. Communities are not about self-actualisation. These platforms should enable a person to do something they want to do, but would otherwise struggle to achieve. To maintain and expand the community, you should relentlessly incorporate feedback while valuing your early users. Part of that is "managing the spirit", Abousteit says. The reason why people are willing to pay more for a coffee in a café than its material value, is because they enjoy the experience. You community also needs to create such an emotional component.
"Seeing people's enjoyment is also one of the rewards of having a community," Abousteit says. People want to belong. And when they do it makes them happy. Hopefully, that in itself is a reward for your efforts.
Of course, there is also the question of monetization, which a participant asks. Abousteit believes that so long as your methods are transparent and advertising is relevant, users have no problem with community makers turning a profit.
A second participant asks whether community building is always a 24/7 job. And whether there is anything you can do about this. Abousteit says that dedicating yourself to community building around the clock is necessary – at first at least. "And if that is not something you want or can handle, it is worth asking whether you really need a community." A competent team offering users what they expect (and these days users expect a lot), but your own dedication remains a must.
Concluding the workshop, Abousteit admits to being addicted to her own community, Kollabora.com. This is a maker community she founded, where members share fashion and jewellery DIY projects, home decoration and more.