Many years ago, I decided to log into Twitter again. My intentions were mostly to explore what the platform was all about. I credit my college internship mentor with urging me to sign up for Twitter in the first place, and sticking with it.
Still, I wondered who my tweets reached, and even more so, why people cared.
I noticed that things began to shift in 2014. I saw that the travelers I was following were having conversations. I know what you’re likely thinking, “Conversations on Twitter? What about that character limit, and how is that even possible?” I, too, was stumped.
Their conversations were guided by hashtags. They were part of larger stories being told in Twitter chats–live Q&A sessions around a specific hashtag at a set time and date. I joined these chats, and became inspired by the travelers that I was virtually meeting.
And, that’s where my own journey with launching a Twitter chat began. I wanted to create a community for travelers who love discovering local culture.
So, on November 13, 2014, I launched my very first #CultureTravChat, to start having conversations around culture and travel.
On Launching an Online Community
When I started my online community in 2014, I had visions of getting travelers together to talk about the intersection of culture and travel. Back then, I felt we needed more conversations about getting to know local culture and why travelers love immersing themselves when they visit destinations.
The journey to launching my community has had its ups and also downs. It’s been full of lessons learned, occasional challenges, changing social network algorithms and even more so, countless successes, priceless friendships across the globe, and happy moments.
Where the Online Community Is Today
Along the way, the community that started on Twitter, has expanded to other social networks and in-person meetups. I’ve gotten the chance to meet travelers from all over the world–both online and offline. I’ve seen the community grow from being only on Twitter, to now having continuous conversations in a Facebook group, a community blog where travelers share their stories, and Instagram photo features. One of my other favorite byproducts of the online community conversations has been the in-person meetups we’ve had, whether it’s been ones organized in New York or other meetups across the world. Best of all, I love how connected the community members feel to each other. They can rely on each other’s advice and destination recommendations, they have a space to talk travel, and they’ve arrange their own meetups in their respective cities.
Over the years, people have messaged me and asked for advice on how they too could launch their communities. And, honestly it makes me incredibly happy to share any advice and strategies (I’m not trying to be sappy, but it makes my day!).
So, now, I’m even happier to launch this website to help more of you with building your own communities. I hope that the strategies and free resources I’ll share will prove to be helpful guides. And, I hope you’ll also share your feedback with me. I would love for this to be an ongoing conversation, so feel free to reach out to me anytime you have a question. I love reading questions and emails, and will do my best to get back to you as quickly as possible.
Now, I leave you with this question: What do find to be the biggest challenge in building an online community? Is it…everything and not knowing where to start? Is it creating content? Is it finding the right audience? Is it keeping people engaged?
Tell me about it in the comments!