Are You Ready For Community Shock?

We can answer this question for most brands in the negative. Few websites pay attention to the need to build sustainable online communities. Few ecommerce website’s seek to “tribe up” communities into a growing and supportive network.

Just as Mark Schaefer defined Content Shock as point of diminishing return where too much content chases too little attention blowing up the concept of “content marketing” we are about to experience Community Shock.


Community Shock chart

Community Shock Defined

Community SHock is the point of diminishing return where adding new members ceases to add benefit to a website, brand or company’s bottom line. Cost of acquiring new members is, after community shock, greater than the marginal value produced by new member.

Content shock comes from too much content chasing too little attention. Community shock comes from too many websites, brands and social networks trying to scale Metcalfe’s law (value of a network is square the number of members). There are only so many communities we can join no matter how cool the technology becomes.

Attention exists in a flexible infinity.

Technology could enable complete membership by every human in every community. Since we haven’t reached such a theoretical nirvana competition for members is sure to heat up especially given the 1:9:90 Rule:

  • 1% of a site’s visitors will contribute meaningful User Generated Content (UGC).
  • 9% of a site’s visitors will share content especially when coming from the 1%ers.
  • 90% read and are important to traffic metrics but hard to engage.

Since every website competes for their engaged 10% and there is overlap between YOUR engaged audience and your competitor’s finding ways to WIN hearts, minds and members TODAY is the great land rush few seem to understand.

Yes, every e-commerce site has a popunder asking visitors to join an email list. Email marketing, in and of itself, is not a community. We defined sustainable online community’s pillars in When Everything Is Social Community Rules.

Marketing for members (sounds like dialing for dollars) is a different gig.

Membership requires movements, sites and ideas we want to join. We join brands, websites, and ideas because they are bigger, bolder and more courageous than others. We join movements because they add to how we see ourselves. We form allegiance, attachment and advocate to anyone who will listen.

Big Green Egg image

The Green Egg

My friend Chris Lawrence owns a Big Green Egg Grill. Chris doesn’t just own his grill he is passionate, invested and an advocate for The Big Green Egg. Chris, unbeknownst to the Big Greet Egg manufacturers, is a 1%er. Finding, empowering and “tribing up” your 1% advocates like Chris is hard work.

LISTENING is a big part of why finding and empowering a sustainable online community is so hard. You can’t PUSH your way to sustainable community. Sustainable communities are earned every minute of every day. Being smart enough to look down the road and see the content shock tsunami about to hit is valuable. Finding ways to modify your marketing so building oline community is happening every minute of every day is priceless.

Start building community by reading When Everything Is Social Community Rules and call or email us if we can help.

Content Code Book by Mark Schaefer imagePS. Appreciate Mark Schaefer’s comment (below) and just purchased his Content Code book on Amazon. We Made Mark’s book our first FEATURED book in our new Curagami bookstore developed easily with Amazon’s affiliate widgets. So easy in fact everyone should sell something online. There are some online marketing lessons you only learn by selling things.

Visit new Curagami Bookstore & read books that helped us make over $30 in online sales.



  1. Mark W Schaefer June 20, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Thanks for the shout-out on my original content shock article and I am glad it had an impact on your thinking Martin.

    As far as your premise, it is certainly in line with my thinking on this but I am not sure we ever own a community in the first place. People come and go as they please. I believe passionate fans are different than a community. For your Green Egg friend, you never mention if he is active online, if he associates with an actual groupp of people in a forum. More likely he is what I call the “Alpha Audience” in my Content Code book. — Passionate fans who are online and offline advocates. And yes, we need to nurture and reward those people like crazy.

    1. Martin Smith June 21, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      Yes Mark this “Fickle Loyalty” you discuss has occurred to me. I subscribe to Faith Popcorn’s idea that we don’t buy brands we JOIN them. My friend Chris, the Green Egg advocate, is very engaged online. I think he does fit into your “Alpha Audience” designation and I’m going to pick up your book to learn more. The aggressive rush toward community is bound to thin the lines or prove if you or Faith Popcorn is right. Thanks for the comment and for writing great stuff. Marty

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