How SMBs Can Build A Community - A Checklist - InformationWeek

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7/1/2009
11:34 AM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
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How SMBs Can Build A Community - A Checklist

Creating a community around your company or brand can help you connect with customers for marketing, support, and insight, but building a successful community isn't easy. Forrester Research has put together a checklist of what you need to help remove some of the guesswork.

Creating a community around your company or brand can help you connect with customers for marketing, support, and insight, but building a successful community isn't easy. Forrester Research has put together a checklist of what you need to help remove some of the guesswork.Titled Community Launch Checklist, Creating A Pragmatic Approach To Launching An Online Community, the report by Jeremiah K. Owyang with Nate Elliot, Zach Hofer-Shall, and Emily Bowen, the report lays some key considerations. Forrester reminds companies to "take inventory of all the pieces needed to launch a community" before actually starting the project, and "understand that community affects the whole enterprise  not just marketing." And remember that technology is only part of the community equation, and not necessarily the biggest part.

It all boils down to 10 key steps:

  1. Prepare Your Team For Your Customers
  2. Determine The Community's Purpose
  3. Align internal roles and responsibilities.
  4. Determine an overall operating budget.
  5. Research existing communities.
  6. Establish internal policies and training.
  7. Coordinate technology integration.
  8. Market the communitys launch.
  9. Set Concrete Goals, Benchmarks, And Measurement Standards.
  10. Select And Integrate The Right Platform

Good advice, and if you don't take it, your community project will be much more likely to fail. But don't think that just because you do follow all the rules your community project is guaranteed to take the Internet by storm. Communities are fickle beasts, with a group-think minds of their own. Sometimes communities will coalesce around your efforts, and sometimes they won't.

As Forrester put it in related report -- B2B Marketers: Tap Into Social Networking Sites To Energize Community Marketing:

Firms build many community sites, but only a few survive. Firms start fan pages on Facebook, load them with marketing content, and watch them peter out over time. ... Like the online e-marketplaces and trading hubs of the late 1990s, firms will scramble to host a plethora of community destinations that many buyers will visit but few will hang around. Surviving business networks will specialize around topics or industries where membership is distributed but interests are common.

Try not to take it personally, and keep trying to make it work.

Don't Miss: How To Boost E-Commerce Revenue With Community

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