Some products have such a strong and vibrant community that has developed authentically over time.
You can feel it their soul. That’s when technology is transforms into something else.
On the other hand products without a community feel cold and isolated. They may have hired a person called a community manager but you can tell its an after thought. You can’t force it and you can’t fake it.
I remember the day Biz Stone came to one of our earliest limited partner meetings and offered the notion: Twitter wasn’t a triumph of technology, rather it was a triumph of humanity. I loved that sentiment and it left a profound mark with me.
Sincere, authentic communities make all the difference in the world.
Tumblr and Twitter both had significant technical challenges during their early days. Tumblr once went down for an entire weekend and we all remember the infamous ‘Fail Whale’. The community stayed with those products during good times and in bad.
The same is true with Apple. The Apple community held during the dark days of 90’s and kept the company going.
Today we see communities of all sizes places like Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy, Minecraft, Vimeo, Pinterest, Kickstarter, Reddit and others. You can also see communities develop on individual blogs as well. Just take a look at the comments over on my friend Fred Wilson’s blog.
You can also see communities form around products that aren’t social per se. The communities behind Leica, Warby Parker, Ona Bags & Apple, transform those brands into something more powerful, important and interesting.
You can even see it with venture capital firms. I would say the community at First Round Capital is the most powerful part of their work. And they should be mighty proud about that.
One of the most special things about communities is when they bring together the offline with the online.
That’s when the magic happens.