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Why People Magic Changes Everything

People Magic is the one thing that matters for whether a community will succeed or fail.

By Gina Bianchini

March 30, 2024

12 min read

Why People Magic Changes Everything

Our CEO, Gina Bianchini, recently shared some of her thoughts on why communities fail, what community platforms are getting wrong, and how people magic changes everything.

The data stopped me in my tracks.

I was looking at a prediction model that showed with 93% accuracy whether a community would succeed or fail.

It was plain as day. Only ONE THING mattered.

And it motivated what we launched today at Mighty Networks.

What made it unexpected?

It wasn’t how much a creator posted.

Or how much of a creator’s content was consumed.

Or whether the creator had set up a sophisticated marketing funnel.

Or if affiliates were promoting them.

None of these things mattered to the community’s ultimate success.

The Unexpected Insight

Success was directly tied to how often members connected or collaborated with each other.

It was the result of the relationships members built, not the content they consumed.

It was the result of discovering the most relevant people, not just following the creator.

It was the result of members taking courses together, not alone.

It was the result of questions that members were stoked to answer, not just read.

The takeaway for anyone with a community, courses, or memberships?

When your members actually connect, you make more money and have a bigger impact.

A 93% prediction model is no joke.

It reflects the experiences of millions of courses and communities—businesses that generated over $370M last year alone.

We had an inkling of this when we started Mighty Networks, the community platform I co-founded in 2017.

But to see the clarity of this data six years and millions of communities and courses later was both humbling and fantastic.

Humbling because it was where we started before we built the most comprehensive and popular platform to run communities and courses in one place.

A platform now with chat, feeds, content, courses, events, livestreaming, payments, marketing funnels, integrations, branded mobile apps, and more.

Fantastic because we could now use all of this as the foundation to do something that wasn’t possible until now.

Community platforms are built on a broken promise

People start and join communities with excitement and the best of intentions.

It’s not just the content or experiences you’ve promised them or the results they hope to achieve.

It’s the possibility of meeting new people on the same path.

They may be outwardly skeptical, but when they join your Slack, Discord, or WhatsApp group, some small part of them hopes they’ll actually meet people they want to get to know, learn from, and even become friends.

Then they’re thrown into the chat.

The chat where the same handful of people are always posting and everyone else may check in every once in a while until they lose interest.

There’s no other way to see who else is here or get to know people.

Sure, it’s familiar. You’re not going to get fired for starting a Discord or launching your podcast community on Slack.

But no one is meeting each other.

Or if they are, it’s only because you or they have worked extremely hard to make it happen.

It’s easier to get new construction approved in NYC or open a small business in San Francisco.

This approach approximates a community, but it’s not even close to what’s possible.

How did we get here?

To see a potential solution, it helps to start at the beginning.

The mainstream platforms that have come to define how we think about community all have one glaring thing in common.

They were built for people who already knew each other.

Facebook groups were built for small groups of friends from college to organize activities.

Slack was built for small teams at startups to organize work.

Discord was built for small groups of friends playing video games together.

WhatsApp was built for families to stay in touch internationally.

Even the new crop of community platforms aren’t building for people who are meeting for the first time. But in their case, these early-stage businesses face the challenge of shipping basic community features. It’s harder than it looks.

Coding up chat, comments, and a rudimentary profile page is easy. It’s getting people to stick around and build relationships that’s the challenge.
We know. At Mighty Networks, we’ve done it.

Now, you may be skeptical of my contention that people show up to communities in 2024 to meet new people but are disappointed by platforms built for friends.
Want to know the tell?

It’s the member profiles.

Facebook groups don’t have a contextual focused profile for members of that specific group. Same thing for Reddit.

Slack has a brief rollover with a photo and name. Not enough to get a sense of a stranger.

Discord is the same.

And WhatsApp? There’s nothing. No profile.

If you wanted to get to really know any of these people, you couldn’t.

This is what we’re settling for when we talk about meeting people on the same path.

To be fair, the reason these platforms aren’t set up for people to meet each other is that they don’t have to be.

They’ve built extremely lucrative businesses just making communications apps for people who know each other.

They don’t need to bother with introducing people to each other or thinking about communities of strangers who come together around a purpose, interest, or goal.

And because people are familiar with them, many have settled for this as the pinnacle of what’s possible with a community.

But the results aren’t great.

It’s settling for a shadow of what’s possible.

I hate settling. Fortunately for me, so does my team.

What’s an ideal community?

An ideal community is one you join because it’s made for a specific purpose. You and other members know why you’re there.

Today, this typically means you’ve followed a creator, entrepreneur, or brand you trust to a new community with courses, memberships, livestreams, and maybe even an event series.

But rather than being thrown directly in a chat dominated by the same 1% of members, imagine you have a very different experience.

New possibilities start in your first few moments after joining.

After discovering the community, you sign up. You answer a few questions about you and why you're here. You join and a host is there to welcome you, just like at a fantastic IRL party or the best workshop you’ve attended.

They start suggesting other members you may want to meet. The people are incredibly interesting. Unlike the disappointing matching algorithms of the past, this feels different.

You know that AI is probably behind-the-scenes, and, shoot, could even be this host showing you around. But it’s not awkward or an in-your-face bot. It feels better, more natural.

In fact, it’s more like real life than anything you’ve experienced in a digital community.

The people you meet are excited to meet you. And you’re excited to meet them too.
You continue to answer some really phenomenal questions that seem tailor made to this community. Through this, you start to get to know more members. They too are super interesting.

Your (software) host casually recommends different ways the community can help you achieve your goals. Upcoming meetups in your city, workshops starting now, trips members are taking together, or the kinds of membership groups you knew were possible but hadn’t found before.

At every step, you’re getting to know people. In fact, you recently met up in person with a few folks and it was great. You’re now taking a virtual workshop together and going to a live event near you in a few weeks.

As you go deeper in the community, there are new things to do and new people to learn from.

But it never feels overwhelming.

Your (software) hosts always seem to show up with the right messages, invitations, or reminders at just the right time.

You don’t realize it at first, but the whole system just works.

It’s helping you stay in touch with people, do new things, and meet amazing members naturally at what feels like exactly the right time.

  • You’re coming back more often.

  • You’re contributing.

  • You’re learning faster.

  • You’re taking on bigger challenges.

  • You’re seeing greater rewards.

  • You’re actually meeting people and making friends.

It’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Does this sound like a fairy tale?

This is not a fairy tale. We are building this today.

To usher in this new world, there are five things a membership platform needs to do exceptionally well:

  1. Make surfacing relevant members a first-order focus. When you put human beings in a bland member list, there’s nothing inspiring about it. It's critical to delightfully surface and introduce the most relevant people to each other.

  2. Truly showcase people in profiles. Make people’s profiles fascinating and incredibly relevant to the community. It's an obvious opportunity to show the person viewing another member's profile what they have in common, as well as other interesting members to explore.

  3. Ask phenomenal questions. Turns out there’s a proven formula for getting members to answer questions and start conversations. The trick is to apply it to the very specific purpose of an individual community. AI now makes this possible—and, at Mighty Networks, we’re making it real.

  4. Layer in things for people to do together. Surface double opt-in introductions, recommended courses, events, livestreams, and programming based on that member’s specific stated goals as well as their actions in the community. Then, keep making these recommendations smarter based on millions of data points.

  5. Use AI to continuously optimize each step for maximum impact. Finally, deploy breakthrough software to create extraordinary results. Learn what makes the most valuable member connections. And the most effective messaging. And the ideal sequencing and frequency of reminders, nudges, and different tactics.

Then, apply and adapt this system to each individual community and course.

It's not easy, but it's right.

It's a new intelligence layer that speedruns the opportunity for actual humans to build actual relationships with actual people in actual communities. Communities that start digitally but that quickly spill over into real life too.

We call it people magic.

And today, we’re launching its first chapter.

People create magic

We’re kicking people magic off with a new ‘people explorer’ that makes it more interesting to discover other members. Today that’s top members, new members, members near you, and those who are online now. But you can quickly see where this goes next.

You can dynamically organize different segments of members so that they can find each other, see similarities, and get introduced based on any number of relevant characteristics.

MN - Graphics - 2024 - FaceExplorer-Mobile-2

Next, we reimagined a member profile with new member badges and soon custom fields that are specialized for that particular community or course.

That’s not all. We also added relevant members to explore, so that every profile is a jumping off point to similar members based on what you have in common.

MN - Graphics - 2024 - Livewell-Profile

To this, we added more granular member management features, so you can build the same detailed profiles of your members behind-the-scenes as you can publicly to connect them to each other.

One more thing.

We believe the best communities and courses are ones that live under your brand.
I mean, we love Mighty and so do many other people, but it shows up enough. We’re not trying to create another Facebook groups, Slack, Discord, or Reddit.

This means your community and courses can be delivered on your own branded web application, email, and, if it’s a fit, even your own branded iOS and Android apps.
We believe superior technology that connects members in the ways I’m describing makes it possible for any creator or brand to build a community, courses, or membership that can stand on its own.

Your members will come for you, each other, and now people magic.

We make it happen behind the scenes.

You get the credit.

Business is fundamentally about people

Can people magic make you money and ensure a bigger impact?


I mentioned earlier the $370M creators, entrepreneurs, and brands earned on Mighty last year.

This was before people magic and the critical insight that courses and memberships succeed or fail based on member connections.

With people magic, members have more reasons to join, contribute, and stick around. The result? Loyalty and retention.

What happens as members achieve their goals alongside people on the same path? They are going to talk about it to new people. Word-of-mouth starts to generate new members joining without an expensive marketing funnel.

Finally, as members take courses or join memberships together, stick around for longer, and have more success faster, people get more value. They are willing to pay a premium.
So, to recap, with people magic:

  • People stay longer.

  • New members join faster and more inexpensively.

  • People get more value and pay a premium.

The opportunity is massive.

But the stakes are higher than the business opportunity alone.

What if we mess this up?

If we don’t use AI and advanced technology to orchestrate true community and build relationships, things may not end well.

Today, we’re spending an average of eight hours a day consuming content.

Content that creates the illusion of connection without the real thing.

And it’s making many of us miserable.

Now add AI assistants and software girlfriends, and we’re bubble wrapping people even further.

When we parlay our content consumption into more time spent interacting with synthetic approximations of people who will accommodate your every want, need, and whim, we are not building relationships with actual people.

The sad truth is we are getting bad at meaningful human interaction.

We're on a path to make it worse.

If we don’t harness the power of the most modern, most powerful, and most intelligent software to connect people to each other, use it to deepen bonds, and apply it to nurture our relationships, we’re moving from awkward to potentially insufferable.

People aren’t going away.

There are eight billion of us who have to share the planet. Even when we can explore the stars, we’re going to be sitting in an aisle with people on the spaceship.

People love people

One final thought.

It may not seem like it at times today, but people are drawn to other people. We’re designed to achieve our goals faster and more easily in communities.

People are awesome. Messy, flawed, and fallible, but awesome.

We create.

We learn.

We debate.

We solve hard problems.

We innovate.

We fail.

We then innovate some more.

We grieve.

We forgive.

We show grace.

We heal.

We love.

By harnessing the power of breakthrough technology to truly connect people, more people can have more of all of this more of the time.

We can counterbalance the risk of AI creating bubble wrapped people with AI that facilitates beautiful experiences with actual humans.

I believe when we take this path, we will thrive.

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