Everything but your company. Why? No one cares. Where is the you?
Merlin Mann of 43 Folders kicked off the morning at Reno-Tahoe WordCamp on June 12, 2010 with a keynote address: “There Is No Plug-in For Awesome (And the only tool here is you)”. He stressed the importance of bringing your own voice and passion into the way you project your business or blog. It is not always the way the latest and greatest functionality or plug-in on your site looks, what the tabs say or how they are positioned, but the material and audience in which your site reaches. He validated a great point which many of us try to avoid, and it is stressing “Everything but your company. Why? No one cares. Where is the you?” Sometimes it is as little as stepping back to acknowledge what you bring to the company or blog, which makes it unique.
Lacking slides Mann stressed simplicity and flexibility, without them we stress about the small things that lead up to what really matters. Although I had to laugh at his reasoning which was “Slides are like ski poles. You know who needs poles, children and professionals.” Coming from a professional ski background I would like to opt for slides, but they are by no means a crutch. With heavy emphasis on caring intensely about what you do and what you do different than the competition Mann explained that it is very difficult to be the next TechCrunch, instead your should focus on a niche. This carried very well into my presentation at WordCamp which was on Building a niche community with BuddyPress.
BuddyPress is a social networking platform/ plug-in that works with WordPress to create a community or add one to your content driven website. I gave a brief tour of BuddyPress and what it is like out of the box, how it can be customized, disguised and optimized. Although it is a social networking platform, it’s NOT Facebook, and it is not going to be Facebook. Thus the importance of focusing on a niche and providing elements such as content that Facebook cannot do.
MYTH – build it and they will come…
Be Different, BuddyPress can be leveraged to build your own brand and community. I emphasize the importance of design; people should not know your site is built with BuddyPress. There are some websites such as Hmag, Irrational Games, GigaOM and Vivanista that do this very nicely. Although design is very important, it is not the only thing to focus on. You cannot just build it and they will come. Providing visitors with something unique, a niche focus, something they will not find elsewhere is how you will captivate and build a community. To validate my point, I Lead by Example and walked people through my companies website Vivanista, a community for philanthropic living and giving. Some of the key customizations we did were to the navigation, profiles, login and widgetized design.
A few other things to keep and grow your user base:
- Make it Sticky
- Make it Social
- Make it Easy