This is a complicated, but brilliant, idea. Grab a big sheet of paper and draw out how the community is going to work. It forces you to think with absolute clarity.
Think of it as a flow diagram, only a little more fun. Here are a few of the things your diagram might include…
- You: Create yourself as a square, circle or whichever shape you like. You community begins with what you do, what your actions are, who you contact. So be specific about what you (not the client, not the customers) are going to do.
- Client. Where is the client in this, what inputs/work will they need to put in? Draw out where.
- People. Hopefully categorised people. Which groups are going to do what?
- Links: Show the links (communications) between people. Each link (a line/arrow) should have 3 things: Motivations, Methods and Message
- Motivations: On each line connecting people include explain why they are doing it. What’s the benefit to them?
- Methods: How are people going to communicate with each other? Is it going to be by e-mail, in person, through forums, by phone via blogs?
- Message: What are people telling each other. Don’t leave anything to chance. Work out what sort of messages you believe people need to say to each other.
- Two Loops. Your diagram should have two very important loops. Without either, you’re guaranteed to fail.
- Loop 1: The first loop is what is going to keep existing members coming back. e.g. Facebook has people writing on your wall and sending you e-mailed notifications.
- Loop 2: The autonomous loop which gets existing members inviting new ones into the cycle without you. Sure you can keep fuelling the fire, but it shouldn’t burn out as soon as you’ve gone.
- Tactics to Grow. Create boxes/shapes for tactics/strategies you want to use to grow the community. Place them at the points you believe they are needed to grow.
The more detailed and precise this diagram is, the better and easier your community will be. You can also test it in stages, or create alternative routes if something might not work. What else would you add?
If you can’t draw it, you can’t do it.