With the one-year anniversary of Product Hunt upon us, Ryan Hoover happily had “a few more people to acquire” at CMX Summit, he joked.

Product Hunt started out with an idea, an email list, and a few dozen people. Since then, the platform has seen significant traffic and community growth. Ryan explains that the core of Product Hunt is the community – the evangelists, makers, and enthusiasts that take part in it each and every day.

Ryan Hoover’s Three Stages of Community:

1. Friends and Friends of Friends: Most communities start with the people in your own network. Start building there.
2. Town Hall: This is where conversations start and noticeable growth begins.
3. Platform: Sub-communities and cultures begin to take shape. This is really when the tech comes in. Before you have the technology, you should be building community.

13 Tactics for Building Community:

  1. Show and Tell: Invite friends, send mockups and screen shots, and give rough glances at the future product.
  2. Incorporate feedback to make your early community feel invested in your product.
  3. Welcome new users via email and always incorporate personality in these email exchanges.
  4. Mention community members when relevant.
  5. Provide value and reinforce a helpful culture.
  6. Share mockups to get people excited, invested, and to make your early users feel like they’re a part of the process.
  7. Introduce things slowly to get valuable feedback and buy-in.
  8. Give out swag! It’s little pieces of the tribe that your community members can build into their identity.
  9. Mail swag! Why? Because it’s delightful. Product Hunt sent out thousands of stickers via snail mail. It’s break in the status quo and makes users feel like a part of the family. There’s no definitive ROI other than positive vibes. But, there’s no doubt, happy customers build strong business value.
  10. Podcast add another dimension to your community and brand personality.
  11. Tell stories. This makes the community proud to be a part of your journey.
  12. Identity is a powerful building block. User profiles allow actions to be tied to personal identity. Pride in individual contribution drives a strong call to action.
  13. Meet in real life! Connect people within the community. Building these interconnections decentralizes and unlocks exponential community growth.

Quick Tips for Community Builders:

Know the stage of your community.
Personal manual outreach.
Delight people.
Build in public, err on the side of transparency.
Give people an opportunity to connect and to connect with each other. Interconnection is how you scale community.

Ryan leaves us with this final thought: “Focus on what’s working and do more of that.”

Clarissa Redwine

Clarissa is an associate at Techstars.