If you plan on building an online community you must have a plan - not a strategy, but a community plan. The list below will help you develop your plan and improve the growth and experience of your community.
The plan is relevant for social communities, blogging, email marketing and just about anywhere else online.
Recommendation: Create an online community plan and then segment each category with their own responsibilities
DN: I suggest a thorough answer to this question before the steps below: What is the purpose of being in the community? (Short & long term.)
1. Who runs the community. A leader. Choose one person (responsibility, control, standards, expectations) to manage the online community.
2. Build community persona. Who you are targeting to join? Include demographics, habits and attitudes, vehicle types they drive, education levels, average annual income, marital status, number of kids, etc.
3. Early focus. Focus on 20-50 people that fall into your persona descriptions, to encourage early joining.
4. Why should they join? Be prepared to explain why these people should join:
- Value proposition?
- Increase their stature in the off-line community?
- Increased visibility or fame?
5. Retaining new members. What is your plan to get them engaged and to retain them? Defined your process to get new members engaged immediately or they will lose interest. Assign a dedicated member to mentor each new member that joins the community for about 3 weeks. Provide the opportunity to engage, ask questions, recommendations.
6. Community happenings. Short-term and long-term - activities
7. How will you grow the community? Exclusive? Grow a massive community? Define your clear vision of how to or not to promote the community for growth.
8. Platform selection. Explain your choice via the type of community you are building - note forums, mailing lists, newsgroups, etc.
9. Content creation. Create a content calendar, plan for content creation at least 4-6 weeks out when you launch. Stay at least 30 days ahead of publishing. Assign responsibilities for management, creation, editing, and publishing of the content for the community.
10. Value. [DN: See purpose & vision, to ensure this is delivered!]