You can pay to grow your community, but if you substitute the organic nature of feedback and enhancement that comes from the early adopter phase… you risk not learning the early lessons that will keep your community alive later on. Also, don’t confuse the passion and genuine interest of early adopters—who tend to join organically—for the participation of people who were externally motivated to join in.
Communities, like other organisms, are constantly rebuilding themselves. New cells are built and old cells die off… your early members will leave and new ones will join up. If your community does not organically grow at all and your numbers are growing only because of your paid efforts… you have no ability to continue the growth without spending more money. This is a dangerous position to be in.
Lesson: Exhaust your ability to share your community with possible early adopters for free before you start paying for traffic. You could pay to get 10x more visitors to your community early on, but feedback from people who organically joined and are contributing ideas and suggestions are 100x more valuable.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.alohastartups.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Darius_profile.png[/author_image] [author_info]FBI, founder of the design community COLOURlovers and co-founder and board member of the All Hands Volunteers international charitable organization. Alumni of Y Combinator and mentor with 500 Startups. @bubs[/author_info] [/author]