Communities are bigger than “social networks” like Facebook. Social Networks are just one type of community, albeit, one of the most recognizable ones on the web today. Every community, big and small, relies on 5 types of roles to be successful. The communities that have all 5 working together are the ones that tend to succeed and become desirable destinations.
- The Host: Somebody has to be willing to entertain all these guests, put on a great event, maintain the peace, and clean up after the party is over. On top of that, the host has to make sure everybody is having a good time. The host keeps your glass full, the food coming, the music playing, and the entertainment fun. Without the host you wouldn’t have a place to kick back, hang up your coat, and pass the time. The host’s job isn’t all fun though. The host has to be willing to set some rules, enforce them, and when in doubt kick some people out. Perhaps most importantly, the host needs to be trustworthy. After all, you aren’t going to just hand over your car keys to a complete stranger.
- The Facilitator: They’re often confused with the host because they seem like a do-gooder who wants to ensure everyone is having a good time. However, they play a different and very important role. The facilitator genuinely wants to make sure everyone is happy. They have a curious nature about them and truly enjoy a good conversation. Without the facilitator conversations would grow quiet and stagnant. If you will, people would stop moving about and meeting other people. On some levels the facilitator is a matchmaker. Their grasp about all the things taking place in the community is amazing. But, unlike the voyeur, the facilitator is willing to share that information with people.
- The Popular One: This is the most important person in the community. Yes, the popular one makes it all about them, but they also bring a whole bunch of people with them. Some people show up to see them. Some people show up to be able to say they saw them. Some people show up because they might see them. The popular one has a tight knit set of friends and a large group of pseudo-friends that show up at the same places they do. If you don’t get the popular one (s) to show up you’re going to have a tiny, boring, and listless community.
- The Instigator: Somebody needs to stir the pot. Somebody needs to be willing to say the things others won’t and do the things that make people shake their head. That’s what’s great about the instigator, they keep things interesting. People love and hate the instigator. They love watching what comes next, but they hate all the attention he/she gets. But, here’s the thing, everybody loves controversy. It’s the reason the news outlets exist. If everyday was 72, sunny, without a chance of rain, and everybody was happy, no one would tune in or read the paper. The instigator engages in conversations just to take the other position. They are pure entertainment.
- The Voyeur: I love the voyeur. They don’t cause problems, usually lend a hand to the host, never overstay their welcome, and always tell everyone what a GREAT time they had. Some times they’re known as wallflowers, but that’s not really giving them their fair due. Wallflowers, don’t interact and seldom even show up. The voyeur shows up. It’s that showing up that helps the community out tremendously. Even without actively participating they make an impact, because they can be counted. The host can say/claim 500 people showed up, even though 420 of them were voyeurs. The voyeur can be taxed, even though he/she contributes less than many other community members. Yes, without the voyeur we’d all be in trouble.
I’m sure you can identify with one of these roles. Often I’m the instigator, but on this site, I’m the host. Read my tweets, check out my posts on forums, and look at my comments on other people’s blogs to see the type of investigator I am 🙂
Knowing the roles and being able to spot the people playing them is critical to making sure your community finds success.
What would some advice be with out a visual and some weights? Exactly! The following image outlines the 5 roles and my belief on their importance. You may find that for your community the weights differ slightly. That’s ok, each community is different.