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This was a very, very useful post! Thank you!

I have recently started a community. While I feel there is a need for it, it is still very difficult, especially as a beginner. Your post makes it very clear on what to focus. Thanks!

Globetrooper Todd

Great post, very useful, refreshingly motivating. When we started our website (, we didn't even think of it as a community. But we've come along in leaps and bounds, from starting to see it as a community, to acknowledging the many nuances that help build a great community. We're just starting to see traction, but even that incipient traction is pretty exciting stuff. Especially since it's taken a lot of effort just to get this far. Love the blog; great work.


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Nice post. I think a few points are key:
1. Don't be afraid to use other channels: phone, email, face to face, to drive participation. Most communities at launch aren't self-sustaining.
2. Start small, but in your targeted participants and your functionality. Limited participants makes it easier to use the channels noted in pt. 1 to cultivate activity with more personal touches. And limited functionality will keep your environment manageable. You can always introduce new functions down the road. Taking functionality out if it isn't working well, or isn't being used, is more problematic.

Here at Forrester Research, we created an evangelist program, which was a week long program, where we walked a small subset of participants through a limited set of functionality. At the end of the week, we were able to generate enough conversation to take the communities live and avoid a ghosttown.

Marc Ryan

Smart read. We created an exclusive on line community for Sperry Top-Sider for people who love all things related to the water.

All these points proved themselves true for us - we are currently at 4100 members and tracking for more - all the members are engaged and truly have a passion for the sea and water performance - can't buy this type of authentic audience.

Another key, is you can not be too corporate in the effort - for instance, we say the site/community is "powered by Sperry Top-Sider" it is not a corporate site. The significance here is a true community should not reek of corporate advertising - allows your brand to be authentic and also gives you reach beyond your current customer. Let them find you!

Thanks for listening.

Marc Ryan
Crunch Brand Communications

Susan Smith

Sage advice, and timely! Thanks!

michael atkinson

Good primer, thanks. We have found that starting and running a B2B community of practice, very challenging but very rewarding at the same time. At, we have nearly 15,000 registered members and visitors from over 180 countries. Keeping their attention is the most difficult part of managing fohboh. One initiative that seems to work well is featuring content and creating a newsletter that is a bi-weekly wrap-up of what's happening in the community. Traffic increases immediately.

But it's our core philosophy of steering, not managing that seems to work best, at least in our community. We also have a zero tolerance policy for spamming and seek to find balance between all foodservice industry stakeholders.

Our membership is about 70% operators, 15% vendors and 15% service providers all looking to connect, communicate and collaborate in an open forum, dedicated to the foodservice/restaurant industry. It's this balance that makes the community work. And, this balance cannot be artificially created.

Brandon Cox

In four weeks, my career/calling is shifting and I will be the online community coordinator for a brand well-known in my niche. Your article is indeed an excellent primer and thanks for writing from your experience! Whets my appetite for connections!

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