Most brand community efforts go something like this..
The brand manager decides an online community could help him sell more washing machines. He hires a web designer to develop a fantastic looking community website. Then he builds up a list of the top influencers on the topic and asks them to join and write about the community.
He also writes press releases and sends them to newspapers and trade press. If he’s lucky, he can get a 2k – 3k people to register. Now he begins publishing useful advice about washing machines. How to avoid clothes shrinking and getting out the really, really, tough stains. Members will also be invited to submit their own top tips.
There is a problem in every line. Washing machines don't bring people together, communities don't directly sell more products, a fantastic looking community website is usually a distraction, top influencers don't help launch a community, press releases rarely work, creating advice isn't the same as cultivating relationships.
If you’re about to start your community efforts and you’re using any, any, of the ideas above, please stop, remove the idea, and start again.