Friday, July 05, 2013

6 Elements of Successful Online Communities

huddleThe problem with well-meaning adages like “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” is that for some, it implies that a group of people can be depended on to identify a particular need, implement a solution, carry it out through completion and follow up periodically to make sure things are going as planned.

People often forget that even within a village, one person usually still bears the brunt of the responsibility if anything constructive is going to be accomplished. How’s this for an adage. “Rely on a whole village and nothing will get done!”

It takes someone to step up and make certain that a well thought out-strategy is staying on point and moving forward. The same way with online communities.

Successful Community Managers know that your online community is only as good as the people who contribute to it.

Anyone can set up an online community, but howdo you make it thrive? In order to have a successful online community for your group of members, there are six elements you must have:


Creating open dialogue can be important to your online community. It can be as easy as asking a question or taking a poll or survey. If your audience isn’t communicating, find out the reasons why and encourage them to engage in a conversation.


What kind of business are you? What is your claim to fame? If you want your online community to flourish, it’s important to be transparent about the values of your organization. Knowing your culture and your mission, make sure that is communicated throughout your community to build it.

Encourage your community members to be themselves. If the persona of your online community doesn’t fit with the culture of your company, it won’t take long for people to figure that out. If you encourage members to be engaging and personable, your company should be comfortable being engaging and personable too across multiple channels.


People want to be involved in a vibrant online community. Encourage new voices and new members to participate in conversations. Provide content relevant to the overall mission of your online community


Obviously, you should measure the engagement of your community. For example, if one of your goals is to drive traffic to your company website, you’ll need to monitor the posts that drive the most traffic. If you arespecific about what metrics support your goals, the better you can monitor your progress


Thanks to the impact of social networking, members expect transparency in online communities too. To build a foundation of trust, be upfront with the goals of the community and be honest when replying to questions; this can build a foundation of trust. Value Think about what your members want from your community. Groups should have something of value to offer its members. Try to provide something to your members that they cannot get anywhere else and make it easy for them to participate.

What are some things that are important to you when you are thinking about joining an online community? Please share in the comments section below.

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