About a month ago, a team of students approached with an idea to create an online platform for advertising and marcom students. They experienced that their is some discrepancy between graduates and advertising/digital agencies. They want to start a community in order to create more opportunities and share knowledge about the advertisement business for and by students. But how do you create a community? A small introduction and 4 things to start a well-funded community.
Communities. A very popular buzzword used by marketeers, students, lecturers, consumers and everyone who is just interested in a certain topic. Communities are popular for more than 7 years, but especially online. But what is an online community?
“An online community is a digital place where people with common interest and characteristics on a regular basis meet each other in order to help each other direct or indirectly, achieving goals and activities, where they contribute to sustainable development of the community.”
Popular and big communities are Flickr (32 million people), Google+ (400 million people, obviously witht help of Gmail) and the dutch tech community Tweakers (500.000 registered members). All these communities where founded 10 or more years ago with different objectives, strategies and a basis. But how do you create a community for your business or just because you like it?
1. Identify objectives
It’s kind of an obvious step you will take, but a lot of people forget it. Before you are hiring webdeveloper and designers for a pixel-sharp platform, you need to determine what your objectives are. What do you want to reach? Where do you want to go with your platform? Inform, persuade, entertain people, networking with people? If you can define these objectives, creating and writing content within your community will be easier for you and your visitors.
2. Add personal value
Another essential point is that you need to add some personal value. In the community every individual is sharing something of his own thoughts, ideas and inspiration. Contributers and followers of your community can appreciate it content that is personalized or that you will push your moderators to keep the community up to date with realistic profile pictures, appreciate that people will give comments in forums and comment in a natural way. Your credibility and value of your community will be higher and your target audience will have the feeling of involvement and dedication. Besides it’s important to have a community manager who knows has the right feeling with your topic. Take someone who is specialist in communication and your topic.
3. Quick responses and relevance
Your community is online, maybe you have an mobile application for your community. This means that your community is accessible for everyone and everywhere. Communities and their members are always communicating real-time events and topicalities, which means you need to be up to date about the information they give or they want. You can conclude this in one word: relevance. The essence is to post relevant content. Besides people expect quick responses, fast answers and new information within the community if there is confusion or if there is no knowledge about the broached topic (in a positive way;).
4. Establish and enforce guidelines
Create a policy that clearly identifies what community members can and can’t do, as well as how violations of the policy will be handled. For an example, see Mashable‘s commenting guidelines. This will provide hard and annoying discussions that has nothing to do with your topics. Moderators will have the possibility to ban members and accost them on their attitude and behaviour.
Ofcourse, there are a lot more guidelines and bricks to build a strong online community, but in my opinion this is a good start. I hope you have enjoyed my blog.