Director, Development & Education at CommunityPeople.net
04 November 2002 15:43pm
Connecting People to People: Online communities connect people who share interests and ideas. Successful Online Communities provide an attractive, organized, user-friendly and personable space where people can learn from each other and share opinions and/or information. First and foremost, people create a thriving community.
Organize Your Community: Healthy communities, offline and online, grow organically. Online communities should be cared for like a well-kept garden. As your community grows, organize the content into categories to avoid frustrating off-topic threads. Prune categories lacking participation and nurture the categories with heavy traffic and participation. Make sure your topics and discussions are identifiable at a glance.
Membership is the Key: Know your members! Who are they, what do they need and what do they have to offer the community? Spend time building relationships within the community. Community members should be treated as guests in your home – introduce your guests to one another and recognize them openly.
Managing & Measuring Your Community: Employ competent, experienced community managers. An excellent community manager cares about the people, the content, and your organization equally. Educate and involve the entire staff in your online community from its inception.
Measure your community success by traffic/metrics, not by the number of posts. General statistics show a 12:1 lurker to active participant ratio. Lurkers are just as important to your community as the active members. Celebrate the lurker equally with the active member!
Understand the Importance of Your Community: Your company or organization depends upon satisfied customers. Community = customers. Provide excellent customer service and you’ll have a thriving online community.
Naturally Integrate Content and Community: Provide prominent real estate throughout your site for your online community. Integrate member comments into your site content. Include the Community Manager in all content and technical meetings or discussions. Reference your site content throughout your community area.
Information: Your content should display passion and expertise, as well as applicable information. Give your members content they can relate to and use in their everyday lives. Respond to community member issues by publishing member-inspired content and recognize the member(s) who provide the inspiration.
Technology and Online Community: Use community tools that require very little maintenance and a low learning curve. Consider an Application Service Provider (ASP) tool package, as they are generally more cost effective than stand-alone clients. Improve your tools by soliciting feedback from your membership. Comparison shop and always choose a company that provides excellent support and ongoing community management training.
Your Understanding of Darwin: What does Darwin have to do with this subject? He said it best – and we take the liberty of paraphrasing: It’s not necessarily the strongest who survive, rather those who are adaptable and willing to accept change. The net is always changing. We can either stay on the train and keep going or get off the train and watch it move on without us.
For more in-depth reading, learning, and information sharing, drop by www.communitypeople.net :)
Online Communities Part Two: Engaging Your Community Across Multiple Platforms is the second report in a series of four by DJ Waldow that focus on digital community building. This report uses detailed case studies to demonstrate how brands can connect with an audience across multiple social media sites.
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