Looking to build an online community? Don't start blind!
According to Bill Faeth at the Inbound Marketing Blog, most online-community development plans are "impractical" or "irrelevant." To help companies get a better social start, he offers a list of 10 ways to develop an online community plan.
Define who runs the community. Every team needs a leader; designate someone to manage the overall community. She should be in place prior to the community's launch, and be equipped with clear descriptions of what she can and can't do. Don't forget to define your expected deliverables. Construct personas. Work with the community manager to define community personas so everyone on the team knows who you're targeting and how you want to "sound" to them. Be descriptive: Include target demographics, habits and attitudes, education levels, average income stats, marital status, and so on. Set early targets. Once your personas are in place, start targeting. Aim, for example, for 50 or so people who match your persona descriptions to join immediately. At the outset, shoot for active users (posters, tweeters) with social influence. Know why they should join. If anyone ever asks what the benefit is to joining your online community, be ready with a clear response. What's the value proposition? Will it increase a joiner's stature or visibility? Write all of these points down, so your whole team knows them by heart. Develop a retention plan. Once you recruit a new member, how do you keep him? Create a process to ensure new members are engaged immediately. Consider assigning senior members as mentors. And maintain engagement: All members should be able to ask questions, give recommendations, and feel they're being heard.
Employing some of his suggestions might help boost your community's growth and improve user experience. Here are five tips to whet the appetite:
The Po!nt: It isn't enough to open a Facebook page and hope for the best. Address the hard community maintenance questions with your team before facing them in the field. It'll save time and maximize what your community brings back to the brand.