Businesses are struggling to create thriving online communities.
I think these communities have failed for two major reasons
1. Not enough hustle. There is no visible community manager rallying members to participate. There is nobody hustling members to be involved and initiating fun things to do. Theses businesses are simply too passive/reactive to have an online community.
2. Bad design. Nearly every business opts for a beautiful website over simple tools that work. Bad move. Focus on the function. Forums, mailing groups and Facebook work fine. In many of these communities it's difficult to see the latest activity, impossible to talk to members and hard to even contribute without clicking several times.
3. No community content. There is too great a focus on the subject matter and not enough on the community members. Your community wants to know more about each other.
Simplify your design and hustle like crazy and create content about your community.