Online communities with passionate members have the highest rate of GDP growth over time. People who are passionate about their community are highly motivated, spend more time on your site, buy more stuff, generally more productive and have a slice of the entrepreneurial spirit.

How can I bring in passionate users to my website?
There are several lessons that you can learn from researching your own local community and applying that to your own online community. After all, people are people, whether theyíre on or offline. Your site will slowly stand out from the rest thanks to your passionate users who:
  • Link your articles with friends and family
  • Leave comments and add to the conversation
  • Message you thoughts of inspiration, tips, and general guidance.
  • Lastly, they regularly buy your merchandise.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of your business, usually your passionate customers and dedicated fans are the people who pay for your warez. So, if you want to increase your sales and promote an interactive environment on your website, create more of a local vibe to make it feel like home away from home.

Here are some ways you can go about doing just that:

Motivate them
This should be your number one priority. Give back to those who give to you. Free schwag, coupons, deals, members only downloads, anything you can think of. When they subscribe to a feed, give them something in return. When theyíve been around for a year, give them something in return. When they donít expect anything, give them something in return. Imagine your website as local bar. Thereís always a percentage of people who come around like clockwork. These people are the ones who are treated kindly by bar owners, and bartenders have been trained for it and will give them discounted drinks. You shouldnít be stingy when it comes to your best customers. Your generosity will always come around in several different ways. There nothing like a reputation of goodwill.

Create a sense of belonging
As soon as someone visits your website, you want to offer several ways for them to become a part of your community. There are the usual routes of newsletter subscriptions, Facebook links and groups, and RSS feeds to provide a way for lurkers to turn into a member. Even though itís in bad taste to clutter up your site, just make it obvious enough for them to know that you want them as a part of your network, and make it as seamless as possible.

Call upon the people
From time to time, communities need an objective or anything to join forces against. Nothing like a little bit of social activism. Letting others know that your audience does more than just click and listen is a major power move. Establish a movement for real-life action that makes people think. Join forces to fight disparity. The point is to achieve something greater as a community that is almost impossible for one single person.

Make them feel at home
I know this one isnít easy, but itís a must. If people havenít visited your site before, you should let them know that you appreciate their time and where they can go to get up to speed about what youíre all about. On a slightly different level, try to design your site in a way that gives off a sense of calm. Is it easy to go from page to page? Is it evenly spaced? How does your site perform in different browsers? Youíd be amazed at how things truly work when you test them in every browser. Make sure youíre not irritating your potential members because you didnít bother to check how your site performs with other platforms. Check out services like BrowerShots to be sure everything is up to par.

You canít please everyone
Trying to satisfy every visitor is a waste of time, but itís still something that must be done as a small business owner. There will always be a small group of people that will always hate on whatever youíre doing. Your number one goal is to stay true to the people that love what youíre all about. Have you heard about what happened to Digg? Well, itís a social news site that failed in a big way because over the months because they ignored their core community (tech geeks) and branched out to offer news for a wider audience. What were the results? Digg started to lose their founding membership and numbers went to hell. Just like a small shop trying to appeal to the entire world, you have to realize that every set of eyeballs out there wonít be interested in what you have to offer. Youíll grow at a steady pace, without you worrying about what ďtheyĒ say.

Give privileges to your hardcore fans
Online communities thrive because they offer outlets for members to become a part of the team. This gives them a sense of belonging and makes them more involved in your brand. You have to know what your audience finds fascinating. A few will feel like itís their right and others just want be a part of the site. Massive online forums have moderators (mods) who are major players in the community. While everything varies site to site, there are still several ways for you to give your people some responsibility to ease the weight off your shoulders.