How to Build a Successful Community – Case Study: Archetypes
I recently ran into a great new service which was labelled one of the top 2013 start ups in NYC, called Archetypes. Archetypes offers shopping advice while connecting you with similar shoppers. The site has created 12 shopper archetypes, and is offering styling and shopping tips and content based on those archetype: Caregiver, creative, athlete, rebel, visionary, royal, performer, spiritual, tastemaker, explorer, advocate and intellectual. Each user can either define themselves with how many archetypes they wish, or take a test and let the site do it for them. Depending on the labels one chose, they will see different aggregated content.
The site seems very content rich. It offers articles on self and home styling, blog posts as well as ‘articles’. It aggregates content from different content sources, and labels them under the ‘relevant personas’. And so many articles are reused for several ‘personas’. That’s a great method to instantly create a busy, content rich and interesting site with minimum effort.
Community and Social
The community here is layered on the content and is not yet an active one. Each persona has its own community hub that is built from articles that relate to that persona, recommended shopping items for that persona, and similar people who categorized themselves as that persona. As a formula, it seems like a great idea to start bubbling activity. But when looking at each content item, it doesn’t look that busy from a community perspective. It could be that it is because of the very initial stage of the community (the site is, after all, in BETA) and can also be because a new user isn’t sure of what to say and to whom.
To create a community, the first thing one must do is either encourage forming relationships that would encourage participation, or, encourage participation, which will in turn lead to forming relationships. Sounds pretty simple and straightforward? Well, encouraging people to make a first step and be the one to introduce themselves, either with forming relationships or participating, is never easy. Why would a user connect with another one? Usually, because they share the same ‘problem’ or ‘issue’ , or have gone through similar experiences and can resonate and/or help one another. The site creators have done a good job making sure a user is in a hub with ‘like minded people’ but there needs to be a feature that will either encourage a user to import their connections into the site, or, push a user to create or comment on content. Currently, the main activities encouraged by the site are aggregating content and sharing it with friends on the site. Aggregating content is actually an important step with strengthening the user’s relationship with the site, but Sharing is putting the horse in front of the cart, as without importing my own friends, or creating relationships with other Archetypes users I don’t know, I don’t have whom to share content with.
The Social part of the site is based on a language unique to the site, which is called “me” vs “you”. Whatever content you’d like to aggregate goes under “me” and whatever you’d like to share, under – correct – “you”. Changing a common web language and using “you” instead of “share” is definitely a bold move. However, it usually take a very strong brand to be able to imprint this new term into user’s behavior.
Show me the $$$ – Business model
As part of content and fashion tips that are offered, the site pushes merchandise that is labeled under the specific ‘persona’ e.g. for the spiritual lady, wooden photo frames, Teakwood Soy candles and Teak coasters are offered. This is a great way to start with monetization, the creators of the site can go one step further and link specific items to a specific article or blog post – an article about vacation in the Caribbeans can have links to Spa deals, ari flight and hotel deals, beach wear, etc. At the moment, the items stand pretty much on their own – chances for a user to feel a need to buy a Scented candle are higher after reading an article about a relaxing spa treatment.
Overall Archetypes is an interesting concepts with a great starting point for creating a strong community, I am curious to see how it grows.