These days, most large companies and organizations host some sort of community for their employees to share innovative ideas, for customers to seek thought leadership or for prospects to dig deeply into your culture. These things aren’t new, they’ve been around since the days of IRC chat. Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL put the ideas into the mainstream for internet users.
Today’s communities run the gamut in terms of content focus and technologies. Ning, Jive, Lithium, Sharepoint, Vision Critical, and LinkedIn groups are the names on the tip of my tongue for technologies that can help you establish a community. There are many, many others.
Think for a moment about the inertia you might have in writing a blog post. Or drafting a PowerPoint. Or that pesky monthly email newsletter? Those can cause all of a good deal of procrastination ;-)
Now think of tasking yourself with the management of a community platform and seeding it with interesting content or worse yet, finding answers or subject matter experts for your community members. This can be a daunting task even for established and vibrant communities. Imagine you’re starting one from scratch! Either way, do your homework and be open to feedback. Do some social listening and Google research. Find out what’s important to your stakeholders (have you ID’d them yet?). If you can engage your audiences well and encourage participation with valuable content and connections, the rest will come. But don’t forget to listen and measure. If content goes stale, your members will go elsewhere for info.
Today marks the 3rd annual Community Manager Awareness Day, observed the last Monday in January.