Why do people join online communities?

For most, it is a combination of the following:

All of these reasons are valid reasons to join, but we think that there is a missing piece of the evaluation criteria today. In the future, community members will evaluate which online communities to participate in based on how much money they can make as a member.

As it becomes easier to start and join communities, it becomes harder to retain community members. More options to choose from raises the quality bar, and it will force community leaders to be creative with how they encourage members to stick around. Like it or not, money is the ultimate motivator, and the communities with the lowest churn numbers will be those that give their members a chance to profit off their membership.

As we spend more time online, the places we spend on the internet become the digital equivalent of a job; if youโ€™re spending mindshare in a certain place, shouldnโ€™t you be compensated? Money is the second most important consideration when evaluating jobs (behind personal growth), and that will soon become the same evaluation criteria for which communities to join.

At Confluence.VC, we’ve tested this a couple of different ways. This is what weโ€™ve learned through those experiments.

At the end of the day, if youโ€™re not helping people make more money, what are you even doing?

The whole idea of building a community instead of an audience is to share the value being created. Communities have provided intangible benefits like education, networking, and better job opportunities, but they have left money on the table for themselves and their community members.

As more people form their identities online, the more mindshare goes into different pockets of the internet. People will only stick around these different pockets as long as they are being entertained or rewarded, and itโ€™s becoming harder and harder to compete on entertainment alone. Our species is driven by financial incentives, and providing those incentives is critical for todayโ€™s community builders.

I believe the lasting online communities of the next decade will be those that help put more dollars into their membersโ€™ pockets, and weโ€™re going to continue to build Confluence.VC with this in mind.

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