How To Build Your Online Community

If your business has a community then it has an army of supporters who will help you grow the company.

I asked Mateo Gutierrez to teach us how to build online communities because he’s had a decade of community building. Currently, he’s the director of social marketing at ThisNext, a social shopping site.

Mateo Gutierrez

Mateo Gutierrez


Mateo Gutierrez is the director of social marketing at ThisNext, a social shopping site.

A few lessons from this audio program

Here’s some of what he taught in our interview. (Download the full interview to hear MUCH more.)

Identify influentials

Your influentials are the users who are going out of their way to contact each other. Identify them because they’re the ones who are going to help you grow your community.

Increase recognition

Find a way to give your influentials a way to stand out. When he built communities in online games, Mateo gave influentials’ online characters with special outfits. Other ways to do this is to give them titles or special placement on your web site.

Give them power

Your goal is to empower your influencials to cultivate your community. Sites like aSmallWorld give their some users the power to invite new members into their exclusive communities. Other sites give influencials the power to remove or ban members.

Give rewards

Yelp famously rewarded its top users with access to exclusive parties. Other ways to reward influencials is by helping to build their careers or reputations.

Give points

People want to see how they rank, Mateo told me. In its early days, MySpace’s users famously recruited people to join the site because they wanted to have a large number of friends. Online message boards often encourage participation, by showing the number of messages each user posted. Find a metric that’s relevant to your community’s members, make it visible, create a leader board and watch as your users work to grow their numbers.

Do you have any other suggestions for growing a community? Tell me by email or in the comments.

10 thoughts on “How To Build Your Online Community – with Mateo Gutierrez

  1. These tips might be useful for someone who already has a community, but what should you do if you have a blog ? How could make your blog a community and apply all these tips ? Any suggestions ?

  2. Deep Patel says:

    @M!hai – you can try google friend connect ( it will enable you to quickly deploy a community to add to your blog. First you have to give your users the ability to participate. Make sure you allow comments on your blog and encourage people to participate. I would say that is the first step of building a community. Even with the coolest social network software you have running on your site, if there is no motivation for users to participate it’s going to be difficult to get your community off the ground. If you build it, they will not come.

  3. redclick says:

    Thank you for your tips , I get idea to use in my blog.

  4. Deep Patel – Google friend connect ..might be a solution, but I would like something that won’t make me depend on something else. I’ve been approached by some companies that offered me a community, something like Ning, but everything would be hosted on their servers, and if I’ll want to quit them I’ll have to leave behind the whole community on their servers.

    I would like to encourage people to participate, but first I need a platform or something like this where people will be able to create accounts and start adding content.

  5. Deep Patel says:

    @M!hai – I understand, having your own hosted solution gives you more control. If you are using WordPress as your blog platform there is a solution called BuddyPress ( I think this will fit your needs since you want to host your own social networking software. hope this helps!

  6. This was a great interview!
    Very handy for the community project I'm about to launch.

  7. AndrewWarner says:

    Thanks. I'd love to hear what you do with it. Please keep me updated!

  8. PedroFerreira says:

    This was a great interview!
    Very handy for the community project I'm about to launch.

  9. Thanks. I'd love to hear what you do with it. Please keep me updated!

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