We collaborated with TOPO on the Online Community Playbook (register to download your copy). It provides a comprehensive plan for building and managing your online community. We decided to extract our favorite quotes from the playbook to share with our readers (that's you!). Hope you enjoy them.
Quotes from The Playbook
A Place to Call Home
"The most powerful way a company can add value is to provide a place where prospects, customers and the company itself can interact."
I grabbed this quote from the introduction of the playbook. Organizations derive a lot of value hosting interactions on external social network sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Those external sites should be complemented by a "home base" provided by the organization. Here, one can more directly steer (but not control) the conversation. And, having full access to the underlying data provides a level of actionable insights that are not available on the social network sites.
If You Build It, They Will Come
"The good news is that it's never been easier to build an online community."
We stand on the shoulders of giants. In other words, existing online communities have developed a set of best practices for community management. On top of that, we've become quite comfortable "being social" as end users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And lastly, online community platforms are delivered as a service (i.e. Software as a Service), which pushes technology (and infrastructure) hurdles to the side. Let's go.
Know Your Value Proposition
"The most successful online communities provide something that your prospects and customers want."
It's an existence proof of sorts: why are we here? Or more correctly, why are my customers here? Make sure you answer that question up front and continually provide reasons for your customers (and prospects) to return. It usually revolves around three things: content, connections and interactions.
It's All in the Plan
"The best online communities start with a good plan."
It's not surprising that a playbook would recommend having a solid plan. A good plan includes a listing of your community's strategic objectives, tactics for targeting new members, processes and activities for community managers and details on technology and metrics.
Plant the Seeds
"Identify and recruit a small group of early adopters who will drive the early activity."
All beautiful gardens start with the planting of a few seeds. Early adopters are critical because they give your online community firm footing. It's important to have a base level of activity as new members join the community. It's just like a restaurant: you see lots of empty tables and you decide to look for a more popular joint.
Be The Compass
"Make members aware of activities in the community that are relevant to them."
Community managers must "show the way" to community members, pointing out discussion threads or posts of particular relevance. This requires an understanding of the unique "personas" within the community, along with the particular needs and interests of each persona. Provide the wrong information to the wrong person and you'll quickly lose their confidence.
Recognize and Reward
"You should make sure to recognize members who participate in the community."
We all like to be recognized. Use a combination of personal touch (e.g. a blog posting or an email to acknowledge a particular member's contributions), along with "built in" reward systems, such as leaderboards, badges and privileges. If members know that their activities and contributions are appreciated, they'll be encouraged to remain involved and active.
Download the playbook
If you liked these tips, feel free to register to download your copy of the playbook.
Recently, Scott Albro of TOPO presented a webinar on the playbook. You can register to view the webinar replay. Alternatively, feel free to browse the slides below.