As I see it, there are 9 major stages of building an online community. They go a little like this…
- Defining the Cause. Why does this community exist? Does it fit into one of these categories? What advice can you give to the client about how to build a community that matters?
- Creating the Plan. What resources do you have? How can you stretch them to the max? What is the plan for the first 3 – 6 months? What's the architecture?
- Finding the first 10 people. Who are you going to reach in the beginning, and why? What do they want from a community? Can you get them talking to each other before it's built?
- Develop the interface. Function first, form second. Advise on what works.
- Outreach. How, when and why are you going to approach people?
- Internal Growth. What tactics will get people to tell their friends? How can you tighten the group?
- External Growth. Go for the big influencers, media, important types. Add that extra 0 to the community.
- Autonomy. How can you get this community to run itself? Can you make it self-recruiting? Self-growing? Self governing?
- Quit. Can you quit? Focus on something else? Move into a more overseeing role? Can you create a powerful niche group? Can you elevate key members into positions of real power and responsibility i.e. with a budget.
What do you think? Is there something missing? Have you noticed that developing the interface is just one stage? How does that affect your actions (or your budget)?
Hiren Patel has replied with his ideas.