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Alok on ‘Lessons Learnt while Building an Online Community: The Story of TheRodinhoods’

“i may be the architect, but i’m no longer the hero” 

Alok recently participated in a webinar organised by our awesome Rodinhooders -Pradeep and team at Digital Vidya. The topic was something close to everyone’s heart – How to build an online community: The Story of TheRodinhoods! Alok shared all of the lessons he learnt in the last 4 years.

I don’t think Alok ever realised his one man blog could be converted into a vibrant community of nearly 9000 members in 4 years.

“what started as a 3 person meet in my office has become 200+ at the nse auditorium” 

When people ask me what we do, I simply say, “we’re trying to make an entrepreneur’s journey less lonely”. This is the place you can share your problems and get real solutions. This is where you share your triumphs and tunnels. This is where you get inspired. This is where you find your co-founder or mentor. This is where you seek guidance and come back with heaps of valuable insights. This is where you showcase your venture and get constructive feedback from many many early adopters.

Entrepreneurship can’t really be taught in the classroom; but real life stories with real examples do help. And that’s why this community you have built together with us totally rocks!

Enjoy the webinar. Some of the Q & A’s have been transcribed by Digital Vidya’s Editorial Team (pasted below). Thank you so much for having Alok talk about the story of trhs!

PS: Kaanchan has summarised the takeaways of here beautifully!


 

Some of my fav rodinhood quotes tweeted:

“i’ve written over 500 articles in 4 yrs…” @rodinhood on the story of #trh #relentlesscommitment @MyDigitalVidya

“be the brand – i am rodinhood – on #socialmedia , everywhere!” @rodinhood on the story of #trh @MyDigitalVidya 

“wear ur brand – no bigger eg than @richardbranson who has even dressed as an airhostess!!” @rodinhood on the story of #trh @MyDigitalVidya 

“mingle wth other communities; don’t be an introvert – be a media extrovert” @rodinhood : building an #onlinecommunity #trh @MyDigitalVidya 

“i will capture everything at an event & will serve it to u” @rodinhood “commit urself to ur community” building #trh @MyDigitalVidya 

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As transcribed by Digital Vidya:

In this tech-savvy world, it is essential to leverage upon building an online community so as to capture a large digital space. This is essential for every firm. Learn how TheRodinhoods.com built an online community through this webinar led by Alok Kejriwal, CEO & Co-founder, Games2Win.

Q & A During Webinar With Alok Kejriwal

Q- While building an online community do you make yourself bigger than the brand and should you continue leveraging your brand?

A- There is no particular answer as to who is bigger the brand, the community or the co-founder, instead it is anything that works. For instance: if tomorrow you get your co-founder to be Mark Zukerberg then you will use that opportunity and if you get a website like Facebook to become the sponsor of the online community then in such a case you will use the platform. So, anything which is the strongest asset you have is what one should leverage.

Q- How long has it been since TheRodinhoods started?

A- It has been a journey of 4 years since TheRodinhoods came into existence in November 2010.

Q- Is Ning the most suited platform for building community or are there other platforms to be considered?

A- In Alok’s opinion, Ning worked really well for TheRodinhoods however, it takes its own sweet time to learn. Unlike WordPress and PHP, this is more rigid and is more like someone is running your own site for you and you have to do things in that. However, it has got good community features that are really helpful in building an online community.

Q-  How did the community grow, was it through invites, word of mouth or emailing?

A- Alok said that TheRodinhoods neither invited anybody nor did they send any email. All Alok did was write articles, post them on his Facebook wall and then it just began to grow. When he pointed people to TheRodinhoods, people had come and the community just began to grow.

Q- What is in your opinion the best way to find a co-founder, especially a tech co-founder?

A- For Alok, it was merely luck that worked in his favour. He says that probably one should try and be a part of the conferences and events and try to probe people. This involves a lot of hardwork wherein you need to meet people. Undoubtedly, one will find experts, technology experts but the challenge will be are they going to be the co-founder(s) or not.

Q- Spreading across established media needs entry pass to the club, how do you get one?

A- It is nothing like that, one can read the PowerPoint presentation on the ways to get the PR. It is a misnomer; almost every publication in the country today, the journalist is obliged to give his/her name whether it is the Times Group, Mint or the Economic Times. Earlier, it was not easy as one had to read articles and then find an article that he/she could relate to his/her industry and write to the journalist in a very causal way. This is not very difficult, said Alok.

Q- How do you ensure to the critical mass that an idea works by starting small?

A- In Alok’s opinion, the biggest sense of realization is when you are happy. You get a sense of satisfaction by building a community with a specific purpose that you want to go back to login and contribute tomorrow. For him that is the metric, but for others the metric could be conversions or anything else. But no matter what, you need to start small that is what Alok assures. It will not work even if you start large.

Q- What to post in a community to really start a discussion and engage people? Any suggestions?

A- Alok said that one should always write about something either they know a lot about or have a very strong view about and not just an unfounded view but a founded view or you have a kind of vision about. Adding to this, he said that anything that is contrary but positively  contrary will get a discussion going.

Q- What kind of difficulties did you face while building an online community?

A- The difficulties were just keeping the interest alive by making sure that the content was meaningful every day. In this distracting world with so much of noise, it is difficult to bring back the focus on what we want to do. Alok opines that unless you do not really feel strongly about something then you yourself will be the cause of its destruction as you will lose control in your own creation. So, as long as you are highly motivated to do something, things will surely happen.

Q- What is the core objective of your building the community considering your entrepreneurial skills are in sync with your business plan?

A- The core objective of building the community was to give back and it has nothing to do with the business plan.

Q- Many companies start communities primarily to generate leads for their company. What are your thoughts on that?

A- In his opinion, all those are false communities that are more lead generating and targeting the landing pages which is not the love of your community but the love of your business.

Q- What is the secret of a successful online community when there are so many already existing communities such as Reddit etc.? How do we make a mark in the world?

A- The secret of a successful online community comprises of the intent, the purpose and how committed you are towards your work. You have to plan your own metric of success.

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So just adding my 2 cents to some of the questions asked:

i) This is Alok’s Funding Pitch Template which can be found on the homepage of trhs itself! Feel free to use it, share it and do tell us if it’s worked for you. We love testimonials 🙂 

ii) This is another PPT mentioned in the Webinar that a lot of Rodinhooders have benefitted from: PR for Startups: a Reference Guide

iii) Coming to the challenges we face while building an online community – like Alok mentioned, there is so much noise around, so putting forth relevant content and being noticed/heard/read amidst this content clutter is a huge challenge. So traffic and thereby engagement are some of the challenges we face.

iv) What helped us grow the community? Our awesome members! Plus a community is like a garden. The more you nurture it, the more it grows!

v) How are we different from larger communities? Intent of course matters. Also I think larger communities are a bit more impersonal. At trhs most folks who post articles/queries/showcase their ventures get constructive feedback from lots of members including Alok and me.

Do add your pointers. And feel free to hit us with suggestions.

Digital Vidya’s Webinar was originally published here.

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