Common Branded Community Mistakes (Example)
"For the first time marketers will be able to:
– Network with fellow UK marketing and advertising professionals
– Access and contribute to user-generated content aimed at producing fresh blog content
– Attend industry-related events, promoted by participants
– Form groups relevant to their regional and commercial backgrounds"
Aside from some shoddy copy (lead with the benefits, not the features), the community is struggling. The community has made the same mistakes most brands make. These include:
- Vague concept. A community for marketing professionals to network is a weak concept. The audience is too broad, the purpose is too vague. The concept needs to be stronger. A community for marketing professionals in London to trade advertising secrets is stronger.
Or, preferably, a community for marketing professionals working in technology, or C-level marketing execs, or marketing professionals who have shown exceptional ability. Perhaps PR professionals keen to change the perception of the industry. All of these are perfect for a recruiting/job business to build a community around. By tailoring your approach to a specific group for a specific reason, you're more likely to attract people that will participate.
- Bad design. The community is focused upon content. Content is given the most prominent places within the community. This is a mistake. The most prominent places should be reserved for interactions. If you run a Ning group put your forum in the top middle of the community page. You want members to initiate and reply to discussions they see. Few will bother to scroll below the fold.
- Poor community management. There is no active community management. Members are not welcomed, there are no clear steps for a newcomer to take to be involved and this, below, is unforgivable.
If a member sees that most discussions aren't receiving a reply, they are far less inclined to reply themselves. If a member takes the time and effort to ask a genuine question, they must receive a reply. Even if it's an acknowledgement of the question. Few feelings are worse than feeling like you don't matter, that your posts are unworthy of the community.
It's essential that you work to solicit responses to these questions. Use an 'unanswered' or 'toughest' questions post/category to incentivize members to answer these posts.
On a positive note, this community has done a few things well. First, they have only issued a press release after the community has attracted several thousand members. This ensures when members visit they see an active community, not a desolate wasteland.
Second, they use a good verification question though: "What is the first name of Virgin boss Sir _______ Branson?"
Also see the Women's Advisory Forum for a similar networking community which has made identical mistakes.