7 Lessons From: Kim Johnson
From Glossier to Geneva
Hello there! Please introduce yourself and what you do:
Hi! I'm Kim (twitter.com/hi_kimjohnson), a Taurus sun/Virgo moon/Scorpio rising based in Brooklyn :) I lead Community at Geneva (geneva.com), a chat app for groups, clubs, and communities and have been working in community, previously in beauty, now in tech, for the past 8 years.
What was your first real experience of community online?
The first real online community that I took part in was the community of readers on Into The Gloss (full disclosure: ITG also ended up becoming my first job out of college). Today I would be extremely hesitant to say that a comments section constitutes a community, but at that time (~2012-2014) during the height of the blogging era, the comments sections on some of the most popular blogs felt like a party that you could come back to every day with people you knew. We would recognize fellow commenters by name, share personal anecdotes, connect over shared experiences, and the editors were just as engaged and involved in the discussions as the readers. I would go back to the site just as much for the discussions in the comments sections as I would for the interviews and editorial pieces.
What virtual community do you currently enjoy the most and why?
I'm truly in awe of what The Cinema Sorority (https://www.instagram.com/thecinemasorority) is building. They're a community of young women in NYC who, on a weekly basis, go to the movies together. Their community on Geneva has grown totally organically from a small group to over 1k people over the past few months. Members are organizing meetups, taking over theaters for watch parties, and they're even considering franchising to other cities across the US. I think what they're building is truly one of the most universal & authentic kinds of community today—coming together to meet and connect with people over something you all love, doing it in person and online, and making real friendships in the process.
What makes the best virtual communities stand out?
The more niche a community is the more it will have real meaning for its members. And create a culture for your space! Having rituals, traditions, and even your own terminology that is unique to your group builds culture and shared culture builds connection.
How do you grow a virtual community?
Focus on growth through your members first and foremost. Instead of trying to grow from day one, focus on building the culture, making sure your first members are getting real value, and giving them the ability to invite the people in their lives for whom the community will be most resonant. If your first members are inviting friends, thats your cue that you've built something that has the ability to grow.
How do you measure the success of virtual communities?
Engagement! How often are people coming back and how often are they inviting friends. If your members are fueling the growth of your community by telling friends you've built something of true value.
What's one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about launching a virtual community?
Start small. Focus on the people with you today instead of the people you hope will be with you tomorrow.
What article/ book/ essay/ podcast/ blog post/ video have you enjoyed on the topic of virtual communities?
I think the Get Together podcast (RIP) was a great series for folks interested in the space as it showcased a diverse array of kinds of communities without being too business-y.
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