In our day-to-day conversations with our customers and organizations considering launching an online community, one of the questions we hear most often is:
"What do I need to do to create a successful online community?"
So today, I'm going to tell you my golden rule. I call it "the three P's of successful online communities."
PEOPLE: You need somebody to own your community.
Ideally, this is a full-time position or team. However, I've seen very effective part-time community managers as well. Regardless, you need somebody to be able to run your community. In our experience, we have seen that those online communities that have some who is ultimately responsible for the day-to-day health of the community are much more successful communities have those where nobody owns it.
They don't have to post all the content and upload every file. However, they do have to be the ones, that know where to get the content and have the clout to pull rank when deliverables are due for the community.
PROCESS: You need to have a process that your community management team can follow.
Your community manager should have a content plan - blog post to write, forums to start, and files to have out there. Included within the content plan should be a method or process for promoting resources and discussions to the membership.
A few months prior to going live, know exactly what you will be posting daily, weekly and monthly following the launch of your online community.
PRODUCT: You must select online community software that allows your process and people to work effectively.
The third "P" usually fills in itself. By now, you've taken the time to understand your audience. Once you lay out your community management processes and identify the person that's going to run your community, the best online community software platform for your customer base, goals, and strategy becomes a lot more clear.
You can shop for online community software more confidently when your wants and needs are accurately sorted.
Creating a thriving online community that delivers business value to your organization is an extensive and ongoing process. However, these three elements are an important starting place. The three P's will provide you with a solid foundation, whether you already have a private online community or you are in the early stages of developing your plan.