Community Building August 5, 2020

Help. People eagerly joined my WhatsApp group but no one talks! How do you break the ice in a new community?


So, I've managed to gather 50+ interested users in a WhatsApp group in a matter of couple of days. But the problem is I don't know where to go from here 😅. How do I grow an engaging community? No one really talks, I'm assuming everyone is "shy" since it's a group of introverts. (My website,, is a blogging platform for tech students, and almost all the users are from the same college.)

Any community building ideas are welcome! I wish to convert this into an engaging community where students actively participate and help each other.

I plan on hosting a bi-weekly online meetup on Google Meet or Zoom, but that seems unlikely if no one is interested in texting in the first place.

  1. 8

    Things you can try:

    • Say hello when people join the group, start asking simple questions
    • See if anyone working on something, discus it in the group. It'll help bring exposure to members
    • Start discus in specific subjects (plants, code, design, indiehackers, ect) to engage some part of the group talking

    I'm assuming everyone is "shy" since it's a group of introverts

    Shy people are just shy people. Introverts aren't shy people. They just don't engage in a conversation that they don't feel being a part of.

    1. 1

      I like this plan, very actionable. Thank you!

  2. 7

    Anyone who starts a group or community needs to be prepared to talk to themselves. This doesn't mean they will, but you have to start conversations, or share stuff of interest.

    So, I'd ask, what are you sharing?

    1. 2

      Rosie when you say "Anyone who starts a group or community needs to be prepared to talk to themselves" what exactly do you mean.

      Dipping my toes into the community thing with (THANK YOU for the twitter post btw 🙏).

      Do you mean like just keep posting stuff so that when people drop by they see fresh new content or.... do you mean something else?

      1. 4

        I mean a community needs activity, constantly. When starting out this means the founder needs to be that person to start the conversations, constantly, even when nobody responds. It can be hard when people don't respond, people need to be prepared for that and keep trying until they come up with a balance of discussions/things that work.

        1. 1

          amazing thanks. Confirms what I was thinking.

          Last question I promise... define "constantly".

          Every hour? every few hours? daily?

          1. 1

            Depends on the community, but daily would probably be enough.

      2. 1

        Primer this is awesome. Sent it to the product guy at one of my clients.

        1. 1

          ha! Thanks so much!

    2. 1

      so true! i'm still in that phase of constantly writing to myself in my software dev discord and in the mailing list hackers discord. starting to see some results in the software discord of other people chatting and dropping links, super stoked on that this week!

      btw i'll add another idea here – a success for me has been adding a channel to my discords called "#show-your-work"! people want feedback on their stuff and giving users a place that is explicitly like "it is okay to post your stuff here and we won't yell at you for spamming" has been pretty powerful!

      1. 2

        Just FYI, none of those discord links are working!

        Edit: Okay they're working after I logged in via the app. Weird.

    3. 1

      I haven't shared a whole lot, might be time to do that!

    4. 1

      +1. Keep sharing, ask question from time to time and encourage them to share similar content/questions.

  3. 3

    One actionable, specific way I've noticed works out quite well, is if you encourage new members to introduce themselves.

    I don't know if you can pin messages in WhatsApp or have a dedicated place for something in a group, but make sure people see your call to introduce themselves. Also, give a concrete schema to follow, so people don't have to come up with something on their own (therefore increasing the likelihood they will actually introduce themselves) e.g.:

    • Their name, location?
    • What do they do for a living?
    • Where are they on their journey of the respective niche?
    • A random fun fact about them?
    • ...

    Those introductions will likely have some point that you or other members can pick up on.

    1. 1

      Intros are an amazing idea hell yes! Pinning isn't possible on WhatsApp, but maybe once we switch to Telegram/Discord we can do that. This will incite come convos!

  4. 2

    For my $0.02, in today's world, it is too "easy" for people to sign-up for things without any real "intent" on doing anything about it. I can't tell you how many newsletters I have unsubscribed to or software deals I've bought because at the time, it "seemed" like a good idea, but lacked intention. Ideally, you want to do whatever you can to build a community where the community needs to be somewhat "invested" in the community. I don't have answers as to "how," but just look around at others and see what they are doing and what is working, and just replicate to fit your own situation.

    1. 2

      This is absolutely true.

  5. 2

    Just start a technical blog and share your posts with chat. People needs some topics to start discussing.

    1. 2

      Makes sense. Need some content to drive convos!

  6. 2

    You have to be warm...

    Take iniciative.

  7. 2

    What if you had a scheduled hackathon, and at a certain time people post what skills they are looking for, projects needing people, people needing projects etc.? During the hackathon ask people to post updates, screenshots of code or links to live product etc. then the introvert problem goes away as the conversation is about work and code not small talk. Just an idea, I’m not experienced in this but I am a coder so I could see myself using something like this.

    1. 1

      Yep, I do have a scheduled hackathon. But this idea of sharing the project as they're building sounds pretty cool! Let me think this through.

  8. 1

    I’m a part of a really great Slack community that’s based around a product, and one thing that really encouraged me when I first joined was the presence of a solid group of people who regularly chatted there.

    Now, I know that creates kind of a circular problem, but I think focusing on building a community of friends, one person at a time, isn’t a bad start. It’s easier to engage one person who displays interest in chatting on a subject than to drum up interest in the crowd.

    Once there’s a few people who frequent the chat, I feel like the value of the chat channel becomes a little more evident to new users and they’ll be more encouraged to join the discussion.

  9. 1

    Maybe it has something to do with incentives/reward. From behaviour perspective, you want to reinforce the wanted behavior. So maybe some obvious or non-obvious incentives there? disclaimer i’m no expert :) just a thought.

  10. 1

    Start 'texting' yourself, asking questions & create some rountines / rituals. After few weeks, if no-one has interacted / replied whatsoever... well it'll be time to wonder why exactly people joined in the first place.

    1. 0

      Since they're college students, they're still in the early phases of their "career". It's a crowd that doesn't exactly know what it wants.

      1. 1

        Hmm 🤔 if you say so...

  11. 1

    Following this thread - exact same with some of the groups we've created on - every group will have "creators" and "consumers" - the creators are those that post and share often. Key is to identify the creators or more importantly find people in your network who can be creators. Don't equate this to content creators - these need to be real people in the "offline" community of the the people you're trying to get online - once you have a good set of these creators onboarded you'll see that the group is more active overall.

    1. 1

      Right. Need to capture these "creators", I'm sure they exist in every college.
      BTW, meshchat looks great, I like the clean UI.

      1. 1

        Thanks so much. If at all possible, do try it out to run your community. We've just about launched.

        1. 1

          Hey, I'd use it if it were upto me. But I also have to look at user adoption. Making people download an app is a big ask, which is why I'm stuck with WhatsApp in the first place!

          1. 1

            True. That is yet another challenge, but one every new app has to overcome. There's a bunch of stuff you can do on Mesh thats just not possible on WP - especially if its a professional community. Do check out this demo video - - will be great to hear your feedback nevertheless.

            But I hear you and hopefully we'll get to stage where people consider Mesh as a key choice for communities on IM :)

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