Online Community

What's Minimum Viable Community and How to Build One?

March 20, 2023
table of Content
Rashmi Mathur
Account Manager @AtomChat
5 min read

When you get a product idea, do you straightaway take it to the market? You don't, right? You first create a minimum viable product (MVP) to share your vision with the world. This is where leaders now prefer to take a radically different approach that centers around products. They prefer to kick off with a minimum viable community (MVC). 

MVC concepts are the "new" big strategy to test an idea—it creates a solid support base around the concept. Marketing pros even go the extra mile to call it "the new MVP."


What's a minimum viable community? 

Your business is already known to a group of people. Your minimum viable community originates when you share your ideas with them. Regular discussions test if your vision resonates with this community. 

In the early days, your MVC may not resemble a community as such. Just think of it as your first attempt to unite people around your business’ vision and intentions. As your MVC grows, it seeks to create value that is aligned with the image of your company as a creator. 

MVC is also not about a humble beginning. It's about being open-minded, all-embracing, and experimental. You and your team must pay attention to what these users say and do. Your MVC is a work in progress—an entity that's constantly evolving and reshaping itself with the needs of your members. Collaborative research, interactions, bonding, experimentation, and discovery of value creators is essential to the success of such communities.   

An MVC is the first version of a select few—the shared value invested in an idea or vision. Think of the MVC as your small-and-steady first step towards the success of your nascent idea. It is also the foundation to build an infallible future for your business. 

The success of your MVC or future full-fledged community is a measure of its depth of engagement. Such engagement gives you insights into user needs and the value that you look to achieve together.

Benefits of an MVC, and why build one

A lean and trim start provides you with flexibility, agility, and space. This allows your team to prioritize various product features and functions—to include them in the community’s broader scope as it grows and your product transforms to the next version. The MVC creates better solutions based on actual market viability rather than research-based assumptions. 

The major beneficiaries of MVC communities include:

  • Company founders or heads keen on a community-driven growth strategy. These thought leaders are often unable to use product development resources for other activities.
  • Leaders who want to monetize a community, but lack the technical skills and the budgets
  • Customer service leads who are intent on building a customer community. In many cases, they are unable to progress since their business development department is already overburdened.

Common MVC use cases can be for:

  • Networking and building connections
  • Connecting people and customer support
  • Practice, validation, data, and conversation points
  • Product feedback via upvotes and exchange of ideas

How can you build a thriving minimum viable community? 

An MVC’s early days can be driven by a small group of known supporters. This includes your friends, family, professional networks, social media networks, email lists, and those who love your content. 

After you identify the members of your MVC, make strategic efforts through organized interaction channels. The aim is to earn these people's feedback and support. Set aside apprehensions that this exercise might make your idea vulnerable to theft. Do not let these fears bog you down from the search for members who back your idea and vision. 

Your MVC should be a simple, quickly launchable platform. It must have scalable features that meet the community's evolving needs, even as it dynamically unlocks value. The process is simple. Just focus on finding the most severe problems, adding members, and being active in your space.

Select a community platform that offers pre-designed templates to create different spaces. This ensures that you can perform a quick rollout as well as follow best practices. 

A community chat builder like AtomChat can transform your online MVC into a vibrant community. Configure this leading chat solution to meet the needs of your audience. Its 30-plus integration options allow you to integrate AtomChat with existing platforms. 

Your community members can seamlessly chat one-on-one or in groups using text, voice, and video options. AtomChat treats your users to rich, immersive HD voice and video calling experiences. Moreover, you can use your self-defined UI translation options via the admin panel. You can also configure AtomChat to communicate with your users in their language.

Key steps for MVC success

Irrespective of the nature of your MVC, certain best practices are essential for its success. The following steps can go a long way in building a successful community.

  • Define the purpose/goal of your MVC. This will help you select the type of people who should form the group and its discussion topics.
  • Find members by reaching out to a large audience on social media platforms. Also connect with people in your professional or personal networks.
  • Create a platform for communication such as a private forum, a Facebook group, or a Slack channel. Your platform must be secure and private. Members should feel safe sharing their thoughts and ideas.
  • Design a structure for your MVC with clear expectations. These include meeting times, topics of discussion, rules, guidelines, and communication protocols. 
  • Engage with your members in ways that encourage them to post questions, share resources, and give feedback. This builds a sense of camaraderie. It promotes an atmosphere of learning and growth.
  • Celebrate success by recognizing members' contributions to the MVC
  • Promote your MVC by reaching out to other communities and channels where your audience hangs out. Craft engaging content with a blog. Post regular content on social media about your group. 

Feedback of your community members clearly shows their thoughts about your idea. It also highlights the aspects that they appreciate. View your minimally viable community as an infallible brand, even if you accidentally launch products that do not meet your users' needs. If your MVC is a cohesive unit that stands by you through thick and thin, then you can tide over these setbacks. Once you reach critical mass, the relationship between the number of users and the value of your MVC will soar. This will yield desired outcomes for you and your users.

The takeaways 

An MVC is not a shortcut to create a thriving community. It's an early version of your full-fledged community. 

Your MVC should factor in your idea and vision behind the product you intend to build. It must stand for your influence in the community, and the goals you want to achieve. The key to a successful MVC is dedication—having an unshakable belief in yourself, your idea, or your product.

When you think of building an online community for your business, consider creating MVCs first. This is better than focusing on the community space’s final version. Treat it as crowdsourcing and place adequate emphasis on grassroots initiatives. Later, you can add features based on feedback about the MVC space.

Building an MVC effectively builds relationships, shares knowledge, and creates a supportive environment for your idea or product. It helps you create a thriving, viable community with a clear vision, secure space, and strategically laid solid structure.

Rashmi Mathur

Rashmi is a sales and support expert with great enthusiasm for technology. Currently, at AtomChat she is helping clients discover possible chat solutions and help them scale new heights.

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