This is part two in a series about our goal to build an active community for a content creator. In part one, we outlined how we chose the content creator and our plan to validate the idea.
One month ago, we launched the Tim Ferriss Fan Club, a community for Tim Ferriss fans to discuss his popular podcast, books, TV show, and blog content. During the past 4 weeks, we have collectively spent 5-10 hours per week posting content to the community, starting discussions, and growing the fan club Twitter account.
1. We built a functional community and are hosting it for free
The website was built using Telescope and is hosted for free on Heroku. The community took about 5 hours to configure and has some great features like email notifications, an automatic newsletter, and up/down voting system for all posts and comments.
When the traffic in the community picks up, we will need to add resources to the server which will cost money.
2. @TFerrissFanClub as over 170 followers
We typically spend 20-30 minutes each business day going through Tim’s mentions on twitter and following people that are engaging Tim or making it clear that they are a fan. This results in following 10-50 people per day, favoriting a lot of tweets, and actually engaging 1-5 people with a tweet or retweet. These actions have resulted in 15-20% follow-back rate, which is relatively good.
We haven’t done any mass unfollowing yet, but will likely do so when our following count becomes a problem.
3. We started a weekly Google Hangout to discuss Tim’s podcast and we had our first guest
All of the Google Hangouts are archived to YouTube here. We hope that the Hangouts will be a way to get to know Tim Ferriss fans and learn about the projects they are working on.
The big failure so far is that we have yet to bring in any consistent activity in the community from Tim Ferriss fans. We knew this would be the hardest part of this project in the beginning stages so we aren’t letting it get us down, however, we recognize that we need a solid strategy to get more eyeballs on the community and convert people into contributing members.
Growing a community is somewhat of a catch-22 situation. The community needs to offer value to attract members, but you need members to create an active community that offers value. We could spend a lot of time creating fake activity with fake user accounts, but we would rather not go down this inauthentic route.
Instead, our plan is to create high-value content based off of each episode of Tim’s podcast. If we can create content that is extremely valuable to Tim Ferriss fans, then we can post it in the community and the fans will associate the community with the content we put out. If the content is good enough, it will get shared by lots of fans and hopefully Tim Ferris himself, which will result in fans joining the community.
So the question remains, “How can we create high-value content for Tim Ferriss fans?”. To be honest, we don’t know yet. Our plan is to take meticulous notes as we listen to the next podcast and look for opportunities to deliver value.
We knew going in that a strong content strategy is key when starting a community. After four weeks of only a few sign-ups, it is time to take the content strategy seriously and figure out a way to deliver real value to Tim Ferriss fans.