You may have heard of product-led growth.

Product-led growth was all the rage a few years ago especially after surveys such as the Forrester report in 2015 that found that 75% of B2B buyers would buy software from a website instead of from a salesperson.

Since this report, a lot has changed in the tech world and the most popular products have been following a different approach - being community-led.

So, what do Notion, Airtable, On Deck, OutReach and Hubspot have in common? Besides all being very popular platforms used by millions of users, they invested very heavily in creating world-class communities and are prime examples of community-led companies. Let's take a closer look at how these companies have leveraged their communities:

Notion

Notion has been the torchbearer for community-led growth. Here are a few very interesting initiatives and steps that Notion has taken in this regard:
Notion onboarding
Onboarding was the one-stop for Notion early on to learn about their users and create a personalized experience for them. They then progressed to show role-based templates such as those for marketing, engineering, and HR teams.
Notion templates
Notion being such a horizontal platform realized very early on that function-wise templates were essential for its users. Thus, as mentioned above, they created templates for marketing, engineering and HR use-cases which created a very personalized experience for their users. By doing so, they were able to increase engagement for their users and in return, users created customized templates on the platform, which could be shared with the Notion community and helped establish the virality loop. This is the gold standard of community building and serves as a great example of how to build a community.
Notion Reddit community
Notion has also leveraged Reddit very well to grow their community. r/Notion has 118K members who are extremely active, and regularly share comments and posts. Other members actively view those posts and upvote, share and comment, which creates virality. Moreover, r/Notion redditors also create Notion templates which can be used by all users in the Notion ecosystem.
Notion Facebook groups
There are several Facebook groups with many thousands of users each that discuss and share ideas pertaining to everything in the Notion ecosystem. While these groups are not officially moderated or created by Notion, this highlights the impact of community.
Notion Ambassadors
Notion Ambassadors is a program by Notion that selects their most passionate users who can volunteer to lead local Notion communities, and organize online and offline events, produce courses and tutorials, create templates, share translations and more.

Airtable

Airtable is another great example of a community-led platform. Airtable has interesting community initiatives as follows:
Airtable Community Forum
Airtable Community Forum consists of a forum built on Discourse that enables members to ask questions, share cool projects and ideas, and discuss APIs, customizations and third-party integrations.
Airtable Marketplace
Airtable Marketplace include apps created by airtable and third-party developers using the Airtable APIs that help users simplify their workflows and be more efficient. The marketplace consists of both free and paid apps.
Airtable Universe
Airtable Universe features projects, resources and websites built on Airtable that provide inspiration to their community.

On Deck

On Deck is a community-led platform that enables startup founders and enablers (angel investors, operators, and experts) to join forces with each other to build game-changing companies that benefit tremendously from the wide and diverse network.

The various community-based cohorts all feed into each other creating powerful network effects.

On Deck also hosts regular events that include participants from various cohorts, which amplifies the effects of its community

Outreach

Outreach has a customer community called Outreach Peak, which enables peer to peer connections between members. Outreach Peak also contains educational resources, exclusive product access and lots more that enables community engagement.

Hubspot

Hubspot has one of the most active communities and is a pioneer in community-led growth. Hubspot communities include various sub-communities or "Hubs" like CRM and Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, Service Hub and RevOps and Operations.



Each hub includes very relevant topic boards such as the topics in the Marketing Hub - Lead Capture Tools, Email Marketing Tools, Content Strategy and SEO, Email Delivery, etc. which are very educational in nature and help community members grow. Hubs also include a leaderboard for the top contributors, which serves as a great mechanism for identifying advocates, recent solutions, posts, ideas, and knowledge base. If you're a startup, here is a rough process you can follow to establish a community:

Create an audience

Start small by creating an audience on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and newsletter platforms like Substack. You must post frequently and engage with your followers. Also, be sure to include content not just directly pertaining to your startup, but content that solves your followers' problems.

Most importantly, show that you genuinely care.

Convert your audience into community

When you start noticing that your audience is commenting and sharing your content and engaging with each other, it is a great time to start building your community. Start with a platform like Slack or Discord and center the community around a mission.

Create a roadmap for your community

Create a roadmap for your community which would include important events, initiatives and strategy. This would help you stay on track and maintain calm when fighting with fires day-to-day.

Measure your community impact

Once you have a community with members who frequently share with each other, you should focus on improving the engagement by tracking metrics such as posts created, comments made, etc. by bringing the data from all your tools together.

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