Online Awesomeness

We’ve been huge fans of skinnyCorp for awhile now. They have become the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of online communities by creating projects like Extra Tasty and Threadless entirely on their own terms. They definitely fall into the category of those about to rock and we salute them.

More importantly, they are sharing their secrets. They gave a fantastic presentation at the Community Next conference at Stanford back in February and Google Video has the goods.

The skinnyCorp Method for Creating Online Awesomeness

With your own social network on Ning, you’ve now got the same shot of creating communities and making them awesome.

It’s worth a watch for any Network Creator, but if you just want to skim the highlights, I’ve added them after the jump.


Begin Cliff Notes of skinnyCorp’s presentation:

They start projects for fun. Most projects at skinnyCorp start with, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if….”

Threadless is the exact same idea that they started with, which was to let the community come together and make art. Then print it.

It was important to them to keep Threadless just t-shirts and to be what they started it to be. When they were ready to try the same concept with textiles, they created Naked & Angry instead of “expanding” Threadless.

Extra Tasty, a community for drink recipes, was born out of their necessity to figure out something to do with the liquor they were bringing – and not using – at BBQs.

A skinnyCorp mantra:

Your project is never good enough

They are always listening to their communities and trying to figure out what they can do to make them better. They never view anything as being done. They are always adding new stuff.

With other companies and people out there trying to be better than skinnyCorp, skinnyCorp is focused on trying to be better than skinnyCorp.

There are two ways to Make Money on the Internets:

The Awesome Way: create innovative projects people want and people use that do something good for the people using them.

It’s the little things that people don’t have to do that give a community its uniqueness. Flickr makes it fun with the little things that they do.

The Not Awesome Way: identity theft.

The skinnyCorp Four Commandments

  1. Allow your content to be created by your community. You are in the minority. Open the door and let your community guide what you do.
  2. Make sure your project is in the hands of your community. The best thing for for your community is to see you incorporate their ideas into the community. If they want something to change and they see you change it, everyone is psyched.
  3. Let your community grow itself. You are there to nurture more than create. Advertising isn’t really effective. Your community grows when it’s excited and inspired.
  4. Reward the community that makes your project possible. Have things get better and better for your community. For Threadless, they keep adding more prize money, but it can be done with intangibles, like new features, too.

End of Cliff Notes.

What I really like about skinnyCorp is that they aren’t afraid to experiment and change course.
In fact, they are set up to do so. They expect it. They are there to help nurture an experiment into online awesomeness.

About the Author:

Gina Bianchini – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.