Marco sat down with Mac Reddin a dynamic force in the realm of community building and remote work. As the CEO of Commsor, his journey is marked by a decade of shaping diverse communities across gaming, tech, and fashion sectors. His early venture, The Chunk, a Minecraft gaming network, showcases his talent for community-led growth, having successfully bootstrapped it to an exit in 2016.
Mac is dedicated to forging authentic connections and pioneering innovative go-to-market strategies. His newsletter, "The Good, the Bad, and the Weird," reflects his unique path in the startup world, offering a window into the unorthodox methods of nurturing a venture-backed startup. From his beginnings in bootstrapping startups at 17 to navigating the complexities of Commsor.
Trying to Define Community
“From a business perspective, I think trying to define it actually hurts it. And I think there's been a lot that's been at the center of the community industry for the last few years and people are in a borderline argument, about what is community, what isn't community.”
The task of identifying whether a community is centered around a company or an individual is significant. The difference, for instance, between Beast as an influencer and Salesforce as a B2B company, represents a wide spectrum in community types. It’s challenging to give advice or define what a community is because of these variations.
There's an emotional element to community, which is why many companies are wary of considering it as a strategy, as it’s not entirely measurable. Companies can track and measure cold calls; if three are successful, they can project the outcomes of a thousand calls. However, with community, the results are not linear or as easily quantifiable.
2 Degrees Of Separation
Traditional sales methods often concentrate on targeting a specific individual. This approach operates on a single vector and tends to overlook the broader networks and nodes that surround this interaction, which can vary in strength. "I think so much of sales and marketing, generally, is based on the premise of the single measurable thing," he explains. This singular direction is how sales are usually conducted. However, in reality, it involves the concept of six degrees of separation; there is someone six degrees away from you in the world who needs your product.
"There are 6 billion people in the world. Imagine, we're now thinking about the network of the world as your customer base."
In this context, you don't actually need six degrees; sometimes just two degrees of separation are sufficient to reach every necessary person. Mac points out, “LinkedIn is a poor measure of whether you truly know someone in your network.” He emphasizes the importance of nurturing authentic connections to add more value to your network.
Understanding Social Capital
Dunbar's number is the concept that you can only maintain about 150 meaningful relationships in your mind. Maintaining authentic, meaningful relationships within a wide network is challenging. Mac says, "Take Lattice, for example. If you have 20,000 people and only 20,000 weak connections, that's useless." You need to strategically build strong connections in the right ways and places.
Don't just reach out to someone formally when you need something from them. This approach diminishes the social capital you have. It's essential to be more intentional about creating strong relationships to grow a network.
When Mac's company raised 62 million dollars, this brought considerable pressure to expand the community without incurring negative risks. "Having that money can dilute the community well," Mac states, "I’ve seen communities of 50 people that drive significant value and communities of 10,000 that are ghost towns."
Six months ago, Mac conducted a poll asking individuals what type of community they would prefer to join, offering options of various sizes, with 50 being the smallest. 82% of the poll respondents expressed a preference for communities with fewer than 50 people.
"I think communities became such a B2B thing. Everyone wants individuals to join a multitude of different Slack groups, but nobody really wants to join another one. The communities from which I’ve derived the most value are the smaller ones."
We want to attend retreats or create communities where personal connections thrive and individuals are recognized. In New York City, there has been a rise in social or membership clubs, distinct from establishments like Soho House – smaller and more intimate. Mac mentions one of his favorite communities in Copenhagen, featuring a sauna. Here, access to the sauna is coupled with events, offering more than just a gym membership; it's a space connected to growth and networking.
People are craving communities that feel human.
Reddin challenges the traditional metrics of community engagement, advocating for a focus on the depth and quality of connections. His perspectives emphasize that the essence of a vibrant community lies in the strength of trust, mutual respect, and a shared sense of purpose, rather than in sheer numbers.