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Design Your Presence – SMPG Community Building Checklist

In our previous post, Research Your Community’s Needs, we discussed the importance of researching the needs of your community, deciding on a logistical approach, and finding out what’s already out there.

In this post, we continue posting our exclusive checklist that you can use to execute your project for building your community – The Social Media Performance Group Community Building Checklist™. We discuss how to design your presence in your community.



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Design Your Presence

  • Don’t develop your community as a stand-alone, in a vacuum
    • Create a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube
    • Leverage the power of each of your social presences to drive people to your community, and your Website
  • Coordinate branding, graphics, messages across your social media presence
  • Use your research to determine what features the community needs and will use
  • Avoid too much complexity
  • Consider creating an advisory board or surveying prospective members to gauge interest in the planned feature set for the community space
  • Consider creating user levels
  • Reward content creators and question-answerers with recognition
    • Best Practice: Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) an award for exceptional technical community leaders who voluntarily provide technical expertise within Microsoft support communities — see the post Run Contests for more information
  • Determine how you will encourage connection and participation
  • Create guidelines for community behavior
    • Indicate how the community can contribute to the guidelines
    • Ensure guidelines are not overly-restrictive or prescriptive
  • Enable community enforcement of behavior
    • Consider implementing a “flag this post” feature
    • Consider implementing voting for posts
    • Consider creating a special area for power users
    • And listen to what they say there
  • Select your platform
    • Many create-your-own platforms to choose from:
      • Joomla Community Builder and JomSocial
      • Ning
      • Cisco
      • Capterra
      • KickApps
      • Jive
  • Determine your platform requirements — attributes to consider include:
    • Is platform widely supported (or commercially viable)?
    • Forums (of course)
    • RSS Feed support
    • Easy posting
    • Ability to feature posts
    • Security and identity — information security measures and also security features that affect the user experience such as onerous login procedures
    • Privacy
    • Video and other media support (consider embedding from YouTube instead)
    • Mobile support
    • Customization
    • Easy administration
    • Backup
    • Removing posts
    • Approving posts

Design Your Presence is the 165th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 407. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances

 

Research Your Community’s Needs – SMPG Community Building Checklist

In our previous post, Define Your Community Goals, we gave you some ideas to help you define your goals for your community.

In this post, we continue posting our exclusive checklist that you can use to execute your project for building your community – The Social Media Performance Group Community Building Checklist™. We discuss the importance of researching the needs of your community, deciding on a logistical approach, and finding out what’s already out there.



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Research Your Community’s Needs

  • Both external community and internal community
  • Communication — how will information flow
    • Within enterprise
    • Member-to-member
    • Member to enterprise
  • Sharing — how information is shared
  • Donating time — how members can help manage and sustain the community
  • Gauge community’s likelihood of engaging — evaluate alternatives to your community
  • Motivation — how to motivate members to join and remain part of community
  • Support — what the community expects from the enterprise
  • Evaluate the risk, including worst case scenarios — how to disengage if the community doesn’t work
  • Understand the required culture change — internal and external — for success
  • Consider using the Social Media Performance Group’s Social Media Readiness Survey

Decide Logistical Approach

  • What role should enterprise play?
    • Passive / Background — enabler rather than leader?
    • Engaged / Directing — visible in everyday life of community?
  • What type of community culture will be sustainable?
    • Free-for-all — relying mostly on community self-policing
    • Managed — visible role for community manager
    • Controlled — think twice before implementing strict organizational control
  • What community activities should the enterprise facilitate?
  • What types of content and features should the community have?
  • Should the community be a Website extension, built on third party site such as Facebook, or built using customizable social-media-building sites such as Ning?
  • Consider extending existing communities
  • Understand the costs of creating a new community
  • What types of members does the community want to include?
  • How to recruit influential / valuable members?
  • How do you handle troublesome members?
  • What kinds of activities are members prepared to participate in to help your enterprise?
  • Should you do fundraising in the community?
  • Should you encourage advocacy?
  • Should you link online events with offline?
  • Take time to do extensive searches for existing conversations:
    • Mentions of enterprise name
    • Mentions of your product category
    • Issues and topics faced by your target audience
    • Mentions of key employees / board members
    • Advocates or spokespeople for your products
    • Mentions of competitors
    • Use the sites and techniques in the Find Your Community post

Find What’s Already Out There

  • Develop a body of knowledge about:
    • Key news sites
    • Most-active potential community members
    • Influential voices online
    • Thought leaders
    • Active potential partner communities
    • Key blogs
    • In-person meetups and events
    • Where your community isn’t, but should be

Research Your Community’s Needs is the 164th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 405. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances

Define Your Community Goals – SMPG Community Building Checklist

Define Your Community Goals – SMPG Community Building Checklist

In our previous post, Community Building Checklist, we began posting our checklist for building your community – The Social Media Performance Group Community Building Checklist™.

In this post, we give you some ideas to help you define your goals for your community.



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Define Your Goals

  • Don’t go off half-cocked and just create a community space without goals and a plan
  • Review the previous posts Create Social Computing Strategies and Elements of an Engagement Plan
  • Determine the potential value you hope to create for enterprise and its clients
  • Create your strategy, goals, and measurement techniques (known as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs)
  • Know:
    • What your community stands for
    • Who ideally participates
    • How they will create action in the real world
  • Identify a Sponsor
    • Key role
    • Must be committed for long term
    • Not necessarily a do-er, but the prime supporter
  • Identify a Strategist
    • Plots the development of the community
    • Ensures the community tracks against goals
  • Identify a Community Manager
    • Responsible for day-to-day
    • Could be a team
  • Estimate the overhead: headcount, budgets and staff time
  • Determine who can join the community
    • If under age 18 or 13 are allowed, ensure that you understand the implications
    • In US, must comply with COPPA[1]
    • May need to set a cookie so that if you reject membership and the user returns and tries to change age, they can’t register
  • Determine who can no longer participate
    • Create a policy for trolls, or objectionable members

Define Your Community Goals is the 163rd in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 403. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances


[1] The US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act: bit.ly/cokKI5

Community Building Checklist

Community Building Checklist

In our previous post, Social Media Community Management Benefits, we discussed the benefits of managing your community and why you should have a dedicated manager.

In this post, we start posting our exclusive checklist that you can use to execute your project for building your community – The Social Media Performance Group Community Building Checklist™.

This list goes on for several posts, and after the last post, you can access the whole checklist by joining our online community at community.socialmediaperformancegroup.com. (Note: due to the huge amount of spam followers joining our community, we will be instituting a $1 charge to join. However, we’ll be adding a free PDF of our entire 430 page book, Be a Person – The Social Operating Manual for Enterprises – (get it in paper atbit.ly/BeAPersonEFull), which is the basis for this series of blog posts, to help defray the inconvenience of the entry fee.)



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Community Building Checklist

“Every webpage is a latent community.
Each page collects the attention of people interested in its contents,
and those people might well be interested in conversing with one another too.
In almost all cases the community will remain latent, either because
the potential ties are too weak, or because the people looking at the page are separated by too wide a gulf of time, and so on.”

Clay Shirky

The following checklist lays out, step-by-step, how to build your own community site. Be aware of what we said earlier, however, you can’t force, impose, or create community. The members of your community will ultimately decide if your community lives or dies. The best you can do is prepare a comfortable place for them to engage. And in many ways, less is more.

It helps if you have a fanatical following. It helps if you don’t try to control everything. It also helps if you always keep in mind that this is not a channel for your messages — it’s a place where conversations happen; a place where you learn from and about your community. Your job is to close the gulf between people that media and community expert Clay Shirky speaks of in the quote above. Good luck. You’ll need it.

The Social Media Performance Group Community Building Checklist™ that follows comprises the following topics, which we discuss in detail in the sections that follow:

  • Define Your Goals
  • Research Your Community’s Needs
  • Decide Logistical Approach
  • Find What’s Already Out There
  • Design Your Presence
  • Create Your Policies
  • Evolve Your Policies
  • Create Initial Content
  • Launch
  • Manage
  • Attracting Community Members
  • Converting Visitors to Members
  • Measure
  • What NOT to Do

Many of these topics we’ve been discussing throughout this book, and some of the checklist consists of bullet points and references to more detail in other sections. Other sections of the checklist introduce new material and have more detail. In general, though, this checklist is light on the explanations. Its purpose is to attempt to list all that you need to consider as you architect your new community.

We’d love to hear what you think about this checklist, and the blog. You can contribute in our community space at our Website, www.socialmediaperformancegroup.com.


Community Building Checklist is the 162nd in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 403. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances

Social Media Community Management Benefits

Social Media Community Management Benefits

In our previous post, Types of Social Media Community Members, we discussed the various types of community members you will encounter in your network and how to manage each.

In this post, we talk about the benefits of managing your community.



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Community Management Benefits

In addition to being an important role in just keeping the community functioning properly, there are a variety of other benefits to be had by having a community manager:

  • Regular feedback from the community means more innovation — Your community is likely to have lots of good ideas for your business. If nobody’s listening — or encouraging — you won’t be able to capitalize on their innovative ideas.
  • Continuously evaluate cost/benefit — You’re investing time and money into your community. A community manager can help you evaluate the benefits your enterprise is getting in return. Plus, the manager can help enhance the benefits by ensuring a smoothly-running community.
  • Ensure your business is constantly forming new connections — A good community manager is not only tending to your community space, he or she is also out on the Web, visiting other communities and proselytizing for your business and your community. The manager may contribute guest blogs or invite experts into the community to share their expertise. Generating buzz within and outside of the community is a key community manager responsibility.
  • Always remain relevant — Without care and feeding, your community can become stale and irrelevant. People will come if they can find you, and if they think you’re relevant to their needs and enthusiasms they will stay. The community manager tracks trends relating to your business and your cause and may introduce discussion topics to keep the community informed, and talking.

So the community manager is a critical role for your organization. Yet it’s amazing how many enterprises decide they can do without someone to manage their communities. It’s not amazing how few of such enterprises produce flourishing communities. Many enterprises try to manage social media and their own communities by committee or by making someone a part-time manager. If your organization can’t or won’t afford a full-time social media coordinator, perhaps creating your own community is beyond your reach. It’s good to be honest with yourself on the cost in commitment and dollars of creating your own community. Doing it poorly can do more harm than good.


Social Media Community Management Benefits is the 161st in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 401. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances

Types of Social Media Community Members

Types of Social Media Community Members

In our previous post, Manage Your Social Media Community, we discussed ways to manage your community and went over some of the key tasks to remember.

In this post, we talk about the various types of community members you will encounter in your network and how to manage each.



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Types of Community Members

Telligent,[1] a provider of services to online communities, categorizes community members into seven types. It’s as good a classification as we’ve seen, and we adapt it below, adding the commentary and the final two types, which are often left off such lists.

  • Influencer: A member who is connected to other well-connected users. Your community manager will want to quickly identify influencers and recruit them to help guide and stabilize the community.
  • Connector: A highly-connected member who converses with and is linked to many other users. Like the person who knows everyone in town, this type of community member can be extremely important to the growth and sustainability of the community. Your community manager should seek out and engage connectors.
  • Asker: A member who posts questions. This type of member can be annoying — like the 3-year-old who repeats, “But why?” after every answer. Or they can be stimulating, generating interesting interactions.
  • Answerer: A member who replies to questions. These members can range from the smug know-it-all to the truly helpful. If you have askers, you obviously need answerers, and optimally, they are civil.
  • Originator: A member who creates new content, also often called a Creator. This type of member contributes original posts, articles, links, videos or reviews. Obviously originators are important to the life of the community. The community manager will want to ensure originators have what they need to keep producing.
  • Commenter: A member who replies or links to content created by others. This type of member may rarely contribute any new content. They range from the obsessive who lets no post go uncommented to the judicious and respected critic who inspires further discussion.
  • Moderator: A member who moderates or curates content created by others. This role ranges from the gatekeeper who must approve all content to a host who sets the tone for the discussion with gentle reminders of appropriate behavior. The community manager can fill this role, but it’s better if a community member steps up.
  • Lurker: A member who very rarely contributes or even comments, but who finds satisfaction in following the discussion. The majority of any community’s members will be lurkers, and that’s OK. They find value in reading and experiencing the contributions of others. A community manager may be inclined to try to coax contributions out of lurkers, but it’s probably best to leave them alone other than checking in from time to time to assess their engagement with the community.
  • Troll: A disruptive member who either enjoys stirring the pot or who is actively hostile. Your community will have its trolls. The role of the community manager is to try to temper their effects. See the Dealing with Trolls post for more information.

Your community management plan should have policies and objectives for dealing with each type of com­munity member, especially potentially disruptive ones. Don’t just hope that the community will police itself — yes, that’s the goal. It just doesn’t happen without planning and support from your organizational leadership and your community manager.


Types of Social Media Community Members is the 160th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 400. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances


[1] Telligent, commits up to 24 paid hours per employee each year to charity: bit.ly/d9xvco bit.ly/cISEYh

Manage Your Social Media Community

In our previous post, Find Out What Your Community Wants, we discussed how to discover the wants and needs of your community.

In this post, we talk about ways to manage your community and go over some of the key tasks to remember.



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Community Management

Your social media community may run itself, but it’s not going to manage itself. You are going to need a community manager, someone who’s responsible for the care and feeding of your community. That could be you; it could be one of your staff; or it could be a volunteer, but to succeed, you need to have a community manager. However, no community manager ever does it all by him or herself. A good community manager will enlist the help of trusted community members and organizational management to ensure the smooth running of the discussions and other interactions in the community.

Being a community manager can involve a significant time commitment, so if you can afford it, consider outsourcing this function to an expert. Regardless of what you think about the costs of a community manager, the long-term costs of not actively managing your community far outweigh the required effort. A community in which queries to the management go unanswered, the trolls are running wild, and the friend function has been broken for days is not a community people will hang around. Lack of attention has killed many a community.

Community Manager Tasks

A community manager often wears many hats. When you take a look at the following partial list of tasks that must be done, you can see why.

  • Recruit members
  • Discover who community members are and what they need
  • Help members figure out how they fit — An important manager task is to identify who will fill the various roles in the typical community
  • Determine how members want to interact — Do they need real-time chat? To be able to create their own forums? A way to friend one another?
  • Design and implement interactive tools
  • Help build and maintain the community’s infrastructure
  • Answer questions or do training on community features
  • Help create and evolve the community culture
  • Discover the best way to encourage members to connect
  • Be the liaison for members to connect with those inside the enterprise
  • Convey community feedback to the enterprise and larger community
  • Advocate for the community
  • Tear down silos inside the enterprise — There’s a large component of change management whenever an organization embraces social media. The manager must be a change agent.
  • Be an author and an editor for the enterprise’s contributions
  • Manage community crises — In any community, offline or online, there are going to crises. Online it might be troll attacks or other personality conflicts or it might be members who want to otherwise harm the community. The community manager must also be a crisis manager

That’s quite a list! And it may be more than one person can accomplish for your community, especially during startup and the critical 6 to 12 months after the community’s debut. You need to think seriously about the resources starting and maintaining your community will require.


Community Management is the 159th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 404. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances

How to Find Out What Your Community Wants

How to Find Out What Your Community Wants

In our previous post, Architecting Community, we discussed exactly how we think you should go about architecting your awesome community.

In this post, we talk about discovering the wants and needs of your community.



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Find Out What Your Community Wants

Before you go too far in architecting a space for your community, you’d better find out what they want. Of course, if you’ve following along with our posts, you probably have a decent idea based on your listening and engaging. But there’s no substitute from actually getting the input from your prospective community members.

As we’ve mentioned before, you can use Social Media Performance Group’s free Social Media Readiness Survey™ in our book to gather information about your community’s preferences. And your leadership should take an assessment such as the Social Media Directors Entrance Exam from Examiner.com,[3] online or in the book as well. We’re assuming you’ve done all this preliminary work and are ready to really find out if you can provide some value to your community by creating a community site.

While these general surveys can help get you started, consider doing a more in-depth survey to determine what kind of site your community wants. There’s a dynamite post by Jim Cashel on the Online Community Report site entitled, Back to Basics: Want to Know What Community Members Need? Just Ask,[4] that has some great ideas about conducting member research. We’ve adapted parts of it below.

The three most important questions you need to answer by asking your community are:

  • What do community members need from you as the host? What are the member expectations about your level of participation, your effort in developing content, in fostering participation and your commitment to hosting the community long-term?
  • What do community members need from each other? Explore what community members want to get from interactions with other community members
  • What can community members contribute? How are community members prepared to participate?

In addition to these key questions, ask demographic questions to provide context and a basis for analyzing members’ answers. Once you’ve determined your objectives, create a survey and ask prospective community members to help you design the community experience.

Here’s a sample list of questions:

  • Name, organization, title, a brief role description
  • What information sources do you rely on to find out more about the product category?
  • What groups (online or offline) are you a member of related to the product category?
  • What products or services do you use related to the product category?
  • What is the biggest challenge related to the cause you face in your day to day work?
  • How satisfied are you with the level and type of communication you have with [your organization]?
  • Do you currently participate in any of the following social media activities: [list relevant sites]?
  • What information, insight or content do you want to share with other community members?
  • What kinds of information would be helpful for other community members to share with you?
  • If we were to offer the following content or features, please rate how useful each would be to you: [list items you are considering providing such as discussion forums, expert Q&A, video previews, blogs, etc.]
  • Would you be interested in connecting with other members at local, in-person events?

However you get input from your community, you should definitely take what they say to heart in designing your community space. In fact, it would be a good idea to create an advisory board that you can bounce ideas off of as you make design decisions.


Find Out What Your Community Wants is the 158th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 397. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances


[1] Social Media Performance Group’s Social Media Readiness Survey: bit.ly/smpgsurvey

[2] Social Media Performance Group’s Mobile Social Media Use Survey: bit.ly/c48q61

[3] Social Media Directors Entrance Exam: bit.ly/bDIsrx

[4] Jim Cashel’s Back to Basics: Want to Know What Community Members Need? Just Askbit.ly/dmoDvA

Architecting Community

Architecting Community

In our previous post, What Is Community?, we defined community and got you excited to learn how to architect your own community.

In this post, we tell you exactly how we think you should go about architecting your awesome community.



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Architecting Your Community

You are the experience architect for your community. It’s up to you to create a welcoming place, filled with cool tools people can use to do the things they do when they’re together: tell each other stories, yack, connect, and support each other.

But what kind of community do you hope to design? Physical communities are divided into many categories: urban, suburban, or rural; or neighborhoods, clubs and associations. Some, like the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC),[1] enumerate an even larger set of intentional community types that are created because people consciously choose to create them rather than, for example, moving into a neighborhood or apartment building because they can afford the rent.

We are drawn to the concept of intentional communities when thinking about online communities be­cause to us, that’s what they are: intentional online gatherings of people with sim­ilar goals and values.

A real-world intentional community is a group of people choosing to live in close proximity because they share a common need, belief, or desire, and who have an intent to share resources. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and are often part of an alternative society, for example, a monastery or commune.

The people in online communities share the idea of intentionality with these offline communities. They aren’t thrown together by an accident of proximity, such as sharing a birth year (high school) or a locality (apartment building). Although people in such situations may find community with those geograph­ically close to them, they usually did not actively choose to be a part of a particular real-world community. People in online communities intend to be together; they take action to join a community that reflects their interests and passions, and stay intentionally.

There is such commonality with offline intentional communities that elements of FIC’s mission state­ment[2] might form a good starting place for your company community’s mission. Here are these elements trans­formed and adapted for online communities:

  • To embrace the diversity that exists among community members
  • To build cooperative spirit within and among community members
  • To facilitate exchange of information, skills, and economic support
  • To serve as a reference source for those seeking information about our products
  • To support education, research, archives, and publishing about our products
  • To increase global awareness about our products

Like offline communities, online communities also tend to fall into categories, and one could argue that as many types of communities as there are offline, there that many and more online. And like lots of concepts we’ve examined in this blog, every pundit has his or her list. Here’s a short list of categories of communities to consider along with examples for each type:

  1. Social/Leisure – Communities where people come together socially to talk about games, sports, TV, music. Also included are emotional support communities who exist to help people who are who are living through similar challenges such as loss, disease, addiction, or financial circumstances. Examples:
    1. Sports team sites (I Am A Trail Blazers Fan[3])
    2. TV show sites (Screen Rant[4])
    3. disease support groups such as the Crohn’s Disease Support Group[5]
  2. Place/Circumstance – Communities brought together by external events and situations such as geographic proximity or a common life experience or position, such as being alumni of a particular school, or members of religious or self-help organizations. Also included in this category are communities defined by age, gender, race, or nationality. Examples:
    1. DukeConnect[6]
    2. Mayo Clinic[7]
    3. The Twin Cities Online[8]
  3. Interest/Purpose – Communities of people who share the same interest or passion or a common set of objectives. Charities, political parties and unions can form communities driven by purpose as can people who like shopping, investing, playing games, making music, or taking a class. Members of a fan club, hobby group, or professional organization, amateur woodworkers, and parents are other examples of people who might belong to communities of interest. Examples:
    1. Social Media Breakfast,[9]
    2. Prince.org[10]
  4. Action/Collaboration – Communities of people trying to bring about change, whether it be political, social, religious, technological, or environmental. Members’ bias is toward action in solving real-world problems. Self-improvement communities fall into this category along with job clubs and referral networks. Collaborative communities such as the Linux, AJAX, or Java communities where members actually build software together are good examples. Another example is innovation and ideation communities, especially within the enterprise, where members solve problems, improve products, and are bound by a common goal. Most customer relations and support communities also fall into this category. Examples:
    1. LinuxQuestions.org [11]
    2. Pepsi Refresh Project [12]
    3. GE: Ecomagination Challenge [13]
  5. Practice – Communities of people who are in the same profession, undertake the same activities, or who pursue the same vocation or avocation. These communities are distinguished from communities of interest by the degree of dedication they exhibit. For example, amateur airplane pilots may exhibit more dedication than hobbyists who enjoy scrapbooking. Example:
    1. Nursing Community Center[14]

In addition to these categories of communities, Rob Howard of enterprise collaboration software company Telligent outlined styles of communities in a post[15] on Mashable:

  • Direct Community: These are communities owned and managed by a company typically running proprietary community and enterprise collaboration software solutions. Examples include the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s community website, Starbucks’ blog, or Dell’s support community. The organization is responsible for running and managing the community and benefits from rich data and user profiles created within that community. These also would include private B2B and internal employee-targeted communities.
  • Managed Community: These are communities started and managed by the organization, but run on consumer-facing social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Examples here include the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Facebook Page, Starbucks’ Flickr group pool, or Dell’s presence on Twitter. The organization is responsible for running and managing the community, but does not necessarily benefit from the rich data and user profiles created within the community. Typically, the facilitator of the community (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) benefits the most from the underlying data.
  • Participating Community: These are communities started and managed by individuals or groups of users, typically on consumer-facing social networking sites, but sometimes also with proprietary software. An example here would be a fan site for Microsoft’s Xbox or an independent Porsche enthusiast group. Typically the organization whose products or services are the topic of discussion can participate, but has no authority or access to the data created within the community.

It’s obvious that all these qualities of communities can be, and often are, combined in a single site. If you decide to create your own community site rather than using a third party site like Facebook, you should consider all of these aspects.


Architecting Community is the 157th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 396. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances


[1] Fellowship for Intentional Community: bit.ly/aaicT9

[2] FIC’s mission statement: bit.ly/dlH7Fi

[3] I Am A Trail Blazers Fan: bit.ly/pG2sGK

[4] Screen Rant bit.ly/ruSzsF

[5] Crohn’s Disease Support Group: bit.ly/aDvyMR

[6] DukeConnect: bit.ly/pLHUqI

[7] Mayo Clinic Community: bit.ly/oTd4JN

[8] The Twin Cities Online: bit.ly/r2jX17

[9] Social Media Breakfast: bit.ly/r3Gaa0

[10] Prince.org: bit.ly/npd3r2

[11] LinuxQuestions.org: bit.ly/oC0zy1

[12] Pepsi Refresh Project: pep.si/od3R4V

[13] GE: Ecomagination Challenge: bit.ly/pTbqna

[14] Nursing Community Center: bit.ly/qPXAH7

[15] Mashable’s How Businesses can Harness the Power of Online Communities on.mash.to/pmqSFN

What Is Community?

What Is Community?

In our previous post, Building Your Community, we began a series on building your community by giving an overview on what an online community really is.

In this post, we offer up our definition of community and preview our next posts on architecting one.



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What is Community?

We think we probably beat this one to death in the post Community, so go ahead and re-read it if you aren’t quite sure what community is.

You’ll recall we defined community as:

A group of people with a shared purpose in a longer-term relationship in which all voices can be heard, and which evolves over time based on where its members want it to go

So that’s what you’re trying to architect.

So You Say You Want a Community?

First ask yourself, “Why?” We assume if you have decided to take the step of creating your own community space that you’ve done your homework. You’ve found your community where it is. You’ve evaluated the quality of the interactions and of the places, and you’ve determined there’s something missing, something you can provide. You’ve honestly decided you need to make a contribution — not to mold or lead, or bend others to your will, but to contribute and provide value.


What Is Community? is the 156th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 394. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances