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The Meaning of Community

It started with a small, blinking cursor. Click. The OnePlus Community Forums went online in December 2013, four months before the release of OnePlus’ first device.

For David Sanmartin, BD Director for Spain at OnePlus, those early months were filled with excitement and uncertainty. “Most of us were unsure how the OnePlus One was going to be received. We were confident we had a really good product in our hands,” says Sanmartin. “But it’s easy to doubt yourself, especially when you need to cut through the noise of the bigger players in the market.”

Over on the Community Forums, users began to register —just a single user at first. Then another, and another. Still, it was a very small community, comprised of a few hundred people who gathered to show support for the most part—the device was still conceptual, as OnePlus had yet to reveal its first smartphone.

For early member and Community Moderator @ Heinrich, this was a small but important distinction. “Other tech-oriented forums were only a means to an end. People would only contribute when they have some issues with something. They would get an answer and leave immediately,” he says. “But it was absolutely different with the OnePlus Community
Forum. There was no product to have issues with in first place! So, people gathered just for the sake of it, like-minded people who shared the same view on things and loved to dream and talk about what-ifs.”

Without a product to rally around, community members gathered to chit-chat and exchange ideas with the OnePlus team.

As the conversation continued to grow, however, it became apparent that demand for the OnePlus One outpaced initial expectations. A solution was quickly devised—and shared on the Community Forums. Thus, the OnePlus Invite System was born.

Invite codes to purchase the OnePlus One would be sent via contests and awarded to active community members. Purchasers would have their own batch of invite codes to send to friends.

@Soniab, another long-time member and current Community Moderator, recalls how community growth exploded after the invite system: “…Initially there were the posts about trying to secure that elusive invite. There was the elation when they did and the congratulatory replies. What made the forum exciting was the shareable invites that would then come,” she says. “The sharing of invites, passing them on to others in the community, done in a fun way via fun games, quizzes, pics, memes… It added another layer to the foundation of the OnePlus community.”

Over at the OnePlus office (then little more than an empty floor with a few laptops), the team marveled at the outpouring of interest and attention. Some speculated whether the upcoming device could keep up with the rising level of expectations.

These expectations would come to define an essential part of the relationship between the OnePlus community and the team itself: a willingness to push and be pushed, to aspire to higher goals, and of course, to Never Settle. So, when the team had questions, community members were always happy to help. And when the community members had something to say, the team was always there to listen.

And as for the OnePlus One? It released to fanfare and critical acclaim. But something even more important was established along the way. Community Moderator and long-time member @youbi weighs in on the significance of the OnePlus Community: “the truth is with all the talks and the exchanging of
opinions, users started to feel like they were part of something. This random group of people from all over the world was becoming more and starting to be an actual community of ‘friends.’”

That’s why every dispatch from the OnePlus team starts with two familiar words:

Hi Friend. |

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