The first session of the day at WordCamp was with Patrick O’Keefe who talked about building a community around your WordPress publication. Patrick is from iFroggy Networks and has written a book entitled “Managing Online Forums.”
Patrick believes there are 3 key things to do to create a strong community. You need to have quality products and content. You should appreciate your readers, commenters, and followers. Finally, you must create a respectful and healthy culture around your content.
Quality content, email, and comments are the three types of “community by default” with any site. They let anyone come in and participate on your site. To encourage more people to get involved it helps to shine the spotlight on commenters sometimes. Forums, comment plugins, and social networks extend your community and allow more people to get involved.
With forums and lots of other social aspects of your site Patrick says, “If you don’t set it up to be successful then it won’t be.” It’s not enough to just have a forum linked on your homepage. You need to feature it, highlight content from it, and more. You cannot launch something and leave it alone, any community needs a significant time investment.
Key to anything you do though is ownership. Patrick emphasized that you need to own your content and your community in a tool that is truly yours. He also talked about things like edge rank which is Facebook’s algorithm for surfacing content in your news feed.
Ultimately, “people want to engage with you in spaces they already are.” The less friction between discovery and participation the better for your community’s growth.