Discover more from Late Checkout - a Substack by Greg Isenberg
Are you building an apartment or a hotel?
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Everyone wants to build an audience.
Having an audience is a core part of the process of building successful companies now. It’s the gasoline to your engine.
But still, I’m not sure enough people understand that community is an equally important component — and I have a new way to talk about it that should make it easy to understand.
Audience = hotel
Hotels are most often placed in desirable locations where cool things are happening. They’re a crucial part of your vacation — but they’re for temporary use only. Outside of sleeping or changing clothes, you don’t spend much time in your room. Or at least, you shouldn’t if you want to make the most of your vacation.
You don’t know anyone else staying at the hotel. You’re there because the hotel is located near a desirable place. You might smile at someone you’ve seen in the elevator before, but meaningful conversations aren’t likely. After all, you’ll probably never see them again.
Your goal when staying at a hotel is to arrive on time, keep your belongings, and get home safe. It’s transactional.
The desirable location is the singular piece of content that grabbed your attention just for a moment. You don’t know the names of other people who enjoyed the content, and there’s no familiar faces in the replies. Your interaction with the creator is limited to that short, temporary stay with their content — and the algorithm might not show you their face again.
Community = apartment
Living in an apartment building is permanent. You live there for at least a year at a time, whenever your lease is up. You spend much more time in your apartment, making it yours — safe, warm, and welcoming for any guests.
You know your neighbors, and might even hang out with them. If a hurricane or tornado hits the building, you’re in it with everyone else in the apartment.
In an apartment, you have both short- and long-term goals. You’ll help people move in. You’ll make sure you take your trash out for garbage day. There’s rituals involved.
Apartments are communities. You make friends with others who operate in the same space as you. There’s a sense of camaraderie that exists — everyone is working towards a common goal. Something drew you in, and now you’re there to stay.
Putting it into practice
The first step of building apartments and hotels is to understand the lifestyle you’d be serving. After all, the best communities are centered around a lifestyle. Let’s use Keto as an example.
If you came to me and asked, “I’ve got an audience of 220,000 people who are interested in the Keto diet, how do I build a community?” — here’s what I’d say:
With Keto, there’s certain things you can and can’t eat. It interacts with your daily lifestyle. Committing to keto is committing to eating a particular way.
From here, there’s a ritual — you can only eat food that is low in carbs. The expected result of losing weight and feeling better is appealing.
To convert this audience into a community, I’d create a 30-day Keto challenge, where the audience can sign up and commit to only eating Keto for a month straight. The ritual for this community would be to have each member post a picture of one Keto meal each day. Bonus points on niching down even further. The 30-day Keto Challenge for Dads. Call it KetoDadsUnite.com or something (that domain is available btw).
Give each person that signs up a message board to discuss what they’re eating, how they’re feeling, and motivate each other to finish the challenge.
After 30 days, you’ll have a large group of dads who endured the same challenges together. You’ll have leaders who motivated others and were most eager to share their meals.
You’ve created a space for people to learn more about themselves and connect with others with a shared interest in losing weight with the Keto diet. Friendships have been made. The participants in the challenge aren’t just going to get up and leave.
There’s staying power.
The main difference
If you think about it, most apartments and hotels are built the same:
Long hallways with raised ceilings
Several different levels, with the best rooms at the top of the building
Simple lobbies — front desk, elevators and stairs
Here’s the difference:
When you check into room 309 at a hotel, Jeremy in room 307 won’t bake you a pie and put it in front of your door as a welcome gift.
When has that ever happened?
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