How do you earn money without selling out the community?
I’d suggest you create a package which businesses can buy. This package would include something similar to:
- A dedicated section for sponsors to talk to members. A corporate can access a forum created for them to talk to members. Members will be encouraged to visit here, ask questions about the product, post complaints, give their ideas and interact with the business.
- Advertising. Usually a waste of time, so include an education guide on how to advertise to members. Only allow targeted adverts that reference the community itself.
- Product focus groups. Issue a call to members to put themselves forward for focus groups or idea generation sessions that the sponsor can run.
- License out the community name. Let the business create community branded products. Your members will probably buy them.
- Editorials/polls. Put some strict guidelines in place of what’s newsworthy/pollworthy and let businesses publish an article on the topic.
- Host online chats/events. Let the company put together a sponsored online chat/event. Members can be informed of this upcoming event and the company can have it’s named featured as it likes.
The key here is to have strict guidelines in place which force the company to act like a community member. Remember, you’re here to protect members – so do so.