The Number One Reason Communities Fail

CricketWhat’s the number one reason that communities fail?

They never get started.

Do you know why they don’t get started?


We’re so deathly afraid that no one will show up.

We’re afraid we’ll invite people, and they won’t show up.

We’re afraid we’ll post something, and no one will answer.

We’re afraid of looking uncool and unpopular.

So afraid that we avoid posting content, or maybe we avoid creating the community altogether.

Well, I have some bad news for you. You’re right. It is very likely that these things will happen.

But it’s OKAY!

Every community starts somewhere.

When we started the u30pro twitter chat, 5 people showed up. Then the next week, 8 people showed up. Then 15, 25, 50 and after a couple months, we’d have over 100 people show up every single week.

Communities are built on trust and relationships. And they need to have energy that draws people to participate. Those things won’t just happen. They take time.

So now that you know it’s definitely going to happen, are you going to let it stop you?

No? Good. Then here are a few ways to help you overcome the crickets phase…

1. Do your research up front

Are you building a community that actually solves a problem? Are people already seeking this kind of community? Who is this community for?

2. Use the small numbers to your advantage

You’re not unpopular. You’re exclusive. And your members are special.

3. Work behind the scenes

Trust, relationships and energy can be built outside of the community on an individual level. Email people, call people, introduce them to each other in a private message. This way you’re not putting it all out there for the whole group to see.

4. Call on specific people

If members won’t come out of the woodwork to answer each other in the community, call on them specifically. @ reply them, or even send them an email.

5. Host live events

Either offline or online, hosting a live event is a great way to build up trust, relationships and energy amongst a group of people really quickly.

6. Still not working? Pivot.

If you’ve tried everything and the community just won’t get going, try something different. Change the focus of the group. Change the platform. Figure out where you missed, learn and adapt.

Just don’t fear the crickets. They’ll go away when the sun comes up.

I have no idea what that means but it sounded cool.

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About the author

David Spinks, CMXSummit and Lifelong student, community builder and writer.


Nice and positive article. The part I found most interesting was #2. If you're "exclusive" isn't that a deterrent for some new members?


This can apply to so many different types of communities & decisions. Many times people fear what will happen before even trying so they don't attempt it. This is gold.


Couldn't agree more with "is the community solving a problem!" In addition to your wonderful list of supporting reasons that communities fail from silence, I'd add "gather your most ardent supporters into the planning phase of the community, and keep them involved with leadership opportunities." Great post!