I recently started a local community in my area, and was asked by a fellow geek – how do I start one in my area? Coventry Geeks is all about local people connecting through their mutual love of fandoms, nerdiness and geek culture. With the success of how it’s gone so far, I wanted to share just how you can make a community for yourselves!
1. Just start
One of the things I regret the most is sitting around waiting for someone to do it for me. I’ve wanted to build a community for so long and following on from my Harry Potter discussion group, I thought – why not expand my horizons. Write down 3 core aims of your community and start with a Facebook group. Invite your like-minded friends who you feel will share these goals and encourage them to do the same.
2. Make an intro video
The reason I mentioned making a video is that this will give your community an instantly recognisable face / ambassador. (That’s you!) Just talk about the three goals, and why you wanted to make the group happen.
You can check out my really simple example here.
3. Contact local businesses
If your group caters for a particular type of business (in my case, it was geeky businesses) – I got in touch with neighbourhood owners of the businesses and invited away! Don’t be shy! Send little introductions to people with your goals and encourage them to do the same.
4. Branding is everything
Branding is important when you first set up – but don’t worry if you don’t have it settled straightaway and don’t look into it too hard! Make something recognisable – for me it was just a green pixel heart. Simple and easy to translate into merchandise.
5. Set up Social Media Accounts
Make sure your community can claim all the social media accounts – for me I was very lucky in that I could claim the hashtag, Instagram account, Twitter account and .co.uk domain for my chosen group name! Take a look into it as you’re building.
Posting regularly is not essential but engaging with the platform is. So be sure to follow some accounts of local businesses and start commenting and exploring! Content will soon come to you if you browse.
6. Keep the topics to threads
If your group is anything like mine, you’ll have a flood of people all eager to build discussion – it’s great but it can get tiresome very quickly. The best way to manage it is have an admin approval block on the wall and make threads. That way people can post about their interests in spaces that mean something, and if one is losing popularity it’ll naturally fall further down the page.
7. Arrange your first meet up straightaway
There’s no need to make it next week, but have a date in mind of when you’d like to have your first gathering. For me, I left it for 1 month from when we set up the group, and in that time we’d reached over 150 members! Now, we have over 200! The meet up itself was a lot smaller but it was good to set a precedent going forward.
8. Make some merchandise
You might not have any funding to put behind your group just yet – but having some merchandise in mind can make everything seem a little more real somehow! For me I made some stickers to give out at events and to stick up around my city. People might then share them on social media and get the group’s name out there!
9. Keep expanding your network
Don’t skip the opportunity to meet more people in your city / town. Share other people’s events to your group, ask who’s going along, facilitate other people’s meet-ups – you might find you start to connect with people much quicker than you thought and you never know… you could be one step away from new friends too!