More on Community Building: Hosting a Party vs Building a Building

Following up my last post on how building a community is like hosting a party, I saw a great post this morning from Doc Searls, wherein he riffs on how companies come to him all the time, and say “we’ve built this great site, why don’t more people visit it?”:

The other day I was sitting in the company of leaders in one industrial category. (I won’t say which because it’s beside the point I want to make.) A question arose: Why are there so few visitors to our websites? Millions use their services, yet few bother with visiting their sites, except every once in awhile.

The answer, I suggested, was that their sites were buildings. They were architected, designed and constructed. They were conceived and built on the real estate model: domains with addresses, places people could visit. They were necessary and sufficient for the old Static Web, but lacked sufficiency for the Live one.

This goes RIGHT along with what I’ve been saying about how community building is like hosting a party. So many people come to me and say “we’ve built this great community site. Now how do we get people to use it?” They’ve built a building. A house for the party to happen in. It’s a usually necessary first step (the party COULD happen “in the streets” on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. without a “house” of its own), but it’s ONLY a first step.

Once you’ve got a party house, stop worrying about the house, and start worrying about getting people to come to the party and have a good time!