[i]For those of you interested in reading the original, significantly shorter version [url=http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/65019937/0/0/1]click here[/url].[/i] There is a certain draw to creating your own community, taking nothing and turning it into something tangible. It’s this draw that lead me to create my account here on Bungie.net, and in many ways, it’s the reason I’m still here. My first group was, well, crap. Horrible idea, horrible execution, but I met so many good people that as a result it was worthwhile, and for better or worse, that’s why you’re all stuck with me now. I’ve made so many groups that I’ve lost count. Most failed (note: 99.99%), but the more I practiced the craft the better things got. A few had solid successes with member counts in the hundreds, one even in the thousands, and though I don’t run any of my own groups any more, I remember what it was like struggling to get things going, so that’s why I offer this to you. These is a collection of what I’ve experienced, and hopefully using some of this will make your first, second, or Xth community fare a little better, or perhaps even triumph. I don’t claim to know it all, I don’t even claim to have a clue, but this is what I’ve experienced. [b]A Word of Warning[/b] Now, I don’t mean to start things off on a melodramatic tone (cue creepy organ music), but I want to get this disclaimer out now. Running your own successful community isn’t easy. It’s not something that respects the idea of instant gratification. It takes time to just come up with a proper idea, and a longer time to get the community to be self-sustaining. Creating a community is like having a child. You wait for a long time before you get to see it, and then you spend an even longer time enslaved to its every need, just so that one day, a long ways away, it’s finally strong enough to be independent, and only then can you relax (but not really). I also want to clarify that I’m most likely going to swap between saying community, group, clan, and private chapter a lot. Even though they’re not, I consider them to be the same, and for the sake of the information I’ll be giving you, whatever of those you’re interested in, they are. I’m lazy, so sue me. [b]The Long Walk: Ideas on the Horizon[/b] Long walk is an understatement, but I believe in you. Before you can run off and click “create your own group,” you need to think things through first. What is your group going to be, who will be a part of it, and how will it succeed? And really, those three things don’t even cover all of it (sorry). [i]Aiming High and Setting Goals[/i] Welcome to step one. The first of many in your journey. Before anything else can fall into place it is important to consider what you’d like to accomplish with your community; what kind of community do you want to be? There are many types, ranging from massive armies to small niches. Whatever your desire, you need to figure it out, and decide three, four, even five years down the line, what you want your group to look like, and not just in member count, but in activity and how the group functions. Your goal should be high, and it should be long-term. You want a solid, fixed point to strive for, and it’ll be better in the longer term if you do choose something harder. Don’t make it too hard though; you want something you know you can do, even if it will be a stretch. Not something you’ll never reach. Choose a mountain that, at the end of the day, you know you can climb. [i]Ladies and Gentleman[/i] Audience is important. Once you’ve decided what your goal is, you need to decide the kind of people who are going to be beneficial to achieving it. Do you need mindless minions that do nothing but boost member count (I discourage that), or well-mannered denizens who will help your group look presentable and flourish (hint hint). While the choice is ultimately up to you, the kind of individuals you’re interested in catering to, be them Xbox users, PlayStation users, both, or neither, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you don’t limit or overreach yourself. Allow me to explain: Think of your group like a blank canvas. Each demographic of individuals you appeal to is a varying color, or shade of color, accompanied with a single brush stroke. The brush stroke may be long (large demographic), or it may be short (small demographic), but two truths exist. If you don’t use a lot of brush strokes you’ll be left with a very blank canvas. Use too many, and you’ll get pure chaos. The goal, ultimately, is to find the happy medium. You want to be interesting to as many people as possible without being a mess. While there are exceptions to every rule. You could be very specific in your ideals and still succeed, just as you could succeed by growing huge and appealing to everyone. They’re less feasible options, and they’ll certainly be more difficult to pull off, but nothing is impossible. [i]Laying Down the Tracks[/i] By this point you should have a general idea of what we want to accomplish, and who you’re going to accomplish it with. Now you make a detailed game plan. Approach it by setting up specific goals for each day of the first week, then a goal for the end of the next three weeks, the next three months, and then every year. Think of this the same way you would if you were learning some new task. You start out slow in the beginning with lots of goals early on, ones that are easier to accomplish so you feel motivated to continue. Then, once you’ve started to get the hang of things you make the goals progressively harder. Each of these goals should be a small milestone up that mountain we made earlier. The first ones might only be small leaps, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Always start simple so you don’t burn yourself out. But what kind of goals are we talking about here? It depends a lot on whatever your final goal is, but for a rough set of ideas you can use things like, “reach a member count of X by Y,” or, “have regular game nights going by Z date.” They don’t need to be “take over the world and vanquish your enemies,” they just need to be simple, logical, and possible benchmarks towards your larger goal. [i]Back to the Board[/i] A lot of the hard part has already been done, but here comes the hardest bit, and as much as it sucks, you’re probably going to need to go back to the drawing board now. Why? Because originality. This is the part where you take all of your ideas, your ambitions, and even your soldiers, and you wrap them in the prettiest, most original idea ever, otherwise you’ll never get off the ground. The world is full of “fun loving communities for friends,” and “ubber pro gamers.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of those, but you’re entering a losing battle if you follow the commonplace. Take whatever it is, and make it original. I’m not saying you can’t be a group of “fun loving gamers who are also great friends,” I’m saying that you’re not allowed to advertise it as such, that you need to be more creative. Originality is what’s going to set you apart from the others. It’s what turns your group from being another grain of sand to that really cool piece of sea glass. It’s not that being sea glass sets you up, if you’ve ever been on a beach you know that there’s a lot of that stuff laying around, but it’s bigger and so much more exciting than a grain of sand. Originality doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s just going to give you a far better chance at succeeding. Be your own special snowflake. I mean it. [url=http://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/68318305/0/0/1]Continued...[/url]
Edited: 8/28/2014 1:17:37 AM PermalinkGreat post! I think it can also be useful to participate in other groups, rather than solely focusing on your own. For a start, there are obviously more opportunities to enjoy yourself by taking part in a variety of discussions with groups of people who could be pretty different. In terms of the success of your own group, however, I still think it's useful. As you mentioned, in recruitment you're looking to build a foundation of quality members, and groups tend to be among the best ways to get to know members more personally. Hopefully, you can then make better judgements in recruiting these early members, and make it more likely for these members to accept, as they will be familiar with you (and hopefully have some degree of respect towards you). As well as this, while groups should strive, as you again mentioned, to have a unique quality, there will inevitably still be similarities between groups, so you can learn from other groups. A group may have what you feel is a particularly effective leadership ladder, which may help inspire you in building up your own administration. Equally, you may notice flaws in groups, and so you might be able to seek ways to avoid the same issues arising in your own group. I would not encourage directly lifting any content from other groups, but I think it can be useful to have seen the direct function of other groups.