Last year was something like a Cambrian explosion for creators and community builders. As longstanding businesses were permanently disrupted, creators and brands had to reinvent themselves almost overnight – a challenging enough prospect in the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.
To survive in this new, unfamiliar landscape, creators and brands began trying to build new kinds of communities and experiences online. But it turns out it's insanely difficult to create and cultivate an engaged online audience. The first half of the pandemic saw a lot of hope and optimism that we'd soon have a thriving ecosystem of online communities – followed by a crushing letdown as many of them turned into ghost towns. The infrastructure for managing and continually growing these new kinds of communities simply didn't exist.
There are a million takes on the traditional community platform, which is, in some sense, the original web product. Forums for likeminded people to gather and discuss common interests have been around since the birth of the worldwide web – and the cost of starting them has shrunk from "learn to code" to "click this button." What Wordpress and phpBB and many others started decades ago has been picked up by companies like Circle, Mighty Networks, and Geneva. And that's before you even get to the vertical offerings – whatever industry you work in, there's probably a traditional community platform tailored for you, if you can get people in the door.
But how do you get people in the door?
Well, that's the tricky part. It's incredibly hard to get people to change their habits – and they're most likely not in the habit of going to your forum every day.
Once upon a time, people treated the web like a buffet. Every day they checked in on their favorite blogs and forums, carefully curated their bookmarks, and took pride in the esoteric corners of the web that only they knew about. In the pre-social era, you might've visited hundreds or thousands of destinations in a single day.
These days? Not so much. The infrastructure of the modern web is owned by a handful of gatekeepers. These giant tech companies control distribution and mediate the relationship between creators and consumers. They do this so they can absorb as much data about as many people as possible in order to better serve us all with ads.
It doesn't take a genius to realize this makes for some pretty terrible incentive structures on both the supply and demand side of the creator economy. When creators own the relationship with their followers, they are incentivized to build on those relationships and make meaningful content. Platforms, on the other hand, are incentivized only to keep people's attention for as long as they possibly can, regardless of the net effect on people's lives or livelihoods.
So how can creators and community builders reclaim that relationship? How can they build new kinds of experiences that meet people where they are while simultaneously maintaining the control and ownership they need to survive? It's not a problem traditional community platforms are designed to solve, and the social giants aren't about to help out.
That's why we built Norby.
I should pause here and mention that the Norby team knows all of this because we built an online community exactly like this last year. We felt this pain firsthand, and we originally built Norby to solve our own problems.
As we used it, however, we started hearing from dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of other creators, brands, and community builders, all of whom were facing the same problems.
In 2021, creators and brands are on social platforms because they need to be. That is, after all, where the people are. So they need tools that work alongside those platforms, that help them own their audience and community no matter where they are, and that give them superpowers on the channels they're already on.
Norby is a one-stop shop for building and managing these modern creator and brand communities. It has all the tools you need to get started, from your link in bio, signups, and landing pages to your SMS campaigns and email newsletters. It has tons of integrations and you can use it to host events on any platform, create personalized experiences, track follower analytics, and so much more.
We've been testing Norby for six months now with an amazing community of early adopters and we're finally ready to unveil it. For the time being, we're keeping the beta label and staying in invite-only mode – we're still working on scaling up the platform and meeting the needs of our existing customers before we open the floodgates.
But today's launch marks a milestone for our team. We're finally ready to tell the world who we are, what we believe, and where we're going.
Today, we're taking the wraps off Norby and kicking off a month-long series of events and programming featuring industry leaders focused on the future of brand and community building. We're calling it Know Your Orbit, Grow Your Orbit, and it will run from May 20th to June 17th. All the events are free and you can sign up here – or just text ORBIT to 1 (844) 645-1293 to get updates for each event.
We've got a lot of work to do but a lot to celebrate as well. We're deeply grateful to our community, early customers, and investors for partnering with us on this journey. Your belief in us and this mission has taken Norby from an idea to a platform in just six months, and we can't wait to show you what's next.
Newsletters, contact cards, test messages, a redesign, Norby Crew and more!