The more private communities we launch, the more we learn about how to make them successful, and how to make them fail. There are as many don’ts as there are do’s. Here are a few don’ts that rise to the top for us:
- Don’t have a strategy: This is the big daddy. Some communities launch with a plan that isn’t linked to their organization’s strategic plan. Even worse, some launch with no plan at all. This leads to a lack of focus for your community, which can deal it a death blow.
- Don’t have a community manager: A small, but very visible number of communities seem to grow all by themselves. Most don’t. Someone needs to be working behind the scenes to ensure that progress is being made on your community plan.
- Don’t have a procedure to ensure a quick response time: One of the best ways to get people to never come back to your community is to let their posts go unanswered. We recommend implementing a 24 hour response procedure.
- Don’t have a process for welcoming new members: Imagine going to a party and there’s nobody at the door greeting you. The same principle applies in an online community. There must be some kind of welcome process for new members.
- Don’t have a reporting structure: This is linked to the first don’t. How will you know you’re making progress on your community plan if you aren’t tracking statistics about your community engagement? Identify about 10 key metrics and track them on a monthly basis.
- Don’t have an editorial calendar: Especially in the early days, you need to post proactively post questions or topics in the community to help stimulate discussion posts. We recommend having a three month calendar.
- Don’t promote your community in outside communications: Your organization probably has a bevy of other communications vehicles to talk about what’s happening in your community. Our favorite is an association’s e-mail newsletter.