You should do everything in your power to help create and foster a strong community identity. This wont be the same identity as your organization. You shouldn’t try to force your brand rules upon it.
There are many steps you can take to develop a community identity. These include:
- Create a unique name for the community. You can’t have an identity without a name that represents you.
- Give the community a unique home or thoroughly integrate it within the organization platform. Don’t hide the community behind a community tab. Either develop a platform for the community or convert the existing platform into a community based site. This means featuring community activity on the main page.
- Create an epic history for the community. Record what happens in your community and create a narrative for members both new and old to read.
- Invite contributions to a community constitution defining the community’s purpose, personality, beliefs and governance. This can be a fascinating activity. Be specific about what input you need.
- Introduce a newcomers ritual. Don’t do this for members that have just registered, do it when members reach an important milestone. Perhaps their 10th post or 5th like. Establish a barrier people cross to feel an accepted member of the community
- Use the community’s tone of voice in content and copy.
- Promote the community through external channels. Refer to the community in literature. Seek out representatives for feedback and advice.
- Name areas of the community after members/activities/symbols specific to community members.
- Include in-jokes on internal content material.
- Make special mention of community milestones and achievements. Send out news releases and issue a congratulations on behalf of the organization.
The stronger the community identity, the more stable the community. Members wont leave for another platform. This identity will be distinct from the organization’s, and this is a good thing.