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 and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

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