It’s tempting to divide the community into distinct sections
based around the products you sell or existing market segments. This makes it
neat and simple to manage. The existing departments and group divisions can
each take responsibility for their own community.
There are three problems with this:
for a customer’s attention. You’re often persuading the customer to
participate in several communities instead of one. This leads to a fierce
competition (often from community managers within the same company) for the
same individual’s attention.
social density. You dissipate activity across too many areas. This makes
all the communities look empty. Empty-looking communities repel participation. No-one
wants to participate in an empty community.
3) None of
the topics are interesting enough. Someone that purchases from you may not
wish to spend his or her spare time talking about that specific
product/service. As a result the community struggles to sustain activity.
I’ve seen different community managers from the same
organization approaching the same member to urge them to participate more in several
areas of the community at once.
Build the community around specific customer segments with a
shared common interest. That might not be about your product/service, it might
be about the broader topic, the audience, or the something else entirely.
Use the standard formula for each community:
targeting a specific group of people.
What is the boundary (skills, knowledge, attributes, resources etc…) that these
members have which separates them from mainstream society. Make sure this
boundary is strong.
common interest. What is the strong common interest they share? This is
something that they spent a lot of time on, money on, is emotionally
provocative, or is representative of their identity.
Your community doesn’t have to be for all your customers and
it certainly shouldn’t be a replication of what you already have, but online.
Build communities for your unique audience, not for your company. Ensure you
have similar people with shared interests in the same areas.
We’re now accepting applications for our Professional
Community Management course (Sept 30 – Nov 8). This is an online course that will teach you
how to apply proven, reliable, science to build bigger, better, and more active
communities. If you want to learn more, click here.