The second Building Online Communities meetup happened on Tuesday at the new Google TechHub in Shoreditch. The theme this time was “What we can learn from peer to peer support online”, and the speaker was Jamie from TalkLife.
TalkLife is a peer-to-peer support network, for talking about personal problems and mental health, via an app or on the web. Jamie talked about how he came up with the idea and how it has developed in the last three or so years. It’s safe to say that there have been ups and downs… This type of community obviously has some very special issues to deal with, as it involves mental health and young people, but it sounds like TalkLife have managed to create as safe a space as reasonably possible, with an amazing active group of people keeping it that way. And in fact we talked about the possibility of having so much safety and security that the community just doesn’t function any more.
One of the most interesting points for me was TalkLife’s algorithm for quietly pushing posts up if nobody has responded to them. The aim is to make sure that everybody in the community gets their voice heard, and to keep engagement up. And that what happens in the first 15 minutes after joining TalkLife is the key factor in retention. Jamie also made some good points about their metrics: what is really important for them might not sound that exciting for others (e.g. potential investors), but absolutely make sense for their particular business and community. And their “vanity metrics” such as user numbers are very impressive too!
And if you didn’t write them down (or weren’t at the meetup!), these are the books that were recommended by Jamie and others:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Onward and Upward: Reflections of a Joyful Life by Michael Wiese
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
The Facebook Effect: The Real Inside Story of Mark Zuckerberg and the World’s Fastest Growing Company by David Kirkpatrick
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance