Friday, 13 February 2009

WE NEED A COMMUNITY!

One thing is clear, communities are hot. They seem to be popping up all around us as an increasing number of companies and people have the growing urge to 'start a community'. But where to start?

Last week we attended the 3rd Social Strategy Talk at the Westerunie, titled 'Doe mij een community'. PSV, de Rabobank, a podcast priest and an Obama campaign member shared their experience and knowledge on creating and maintaining a community. Below a little more on the lessons learned.

Hard work
Creating & maintaining a successful community is hard work. It requires good preparation and a clear vision on the purpose & ultimate goal, but it can definitely be worth the effort. As father Roderick said, it took 2000 years of hard work by a lot of nuns, programming in Unix and keeping the IT department of the Vatican going, but in the end "Jesus is a 2000 year old product and still has around 1 billion customers..."

Add value
Although people live in communities by nature, you can't force a community upon someone. Think of the added value for its members, what's their shared goal? Don't ask what the community can do for you, ask what you can do for the community...

Don't reinvent the wheel
As mentioned, starting a community is usually not something you do on the side, it's hard work. And since it's even more hard work to start from scratch -if you can- try to make use of existing communities in stead of reinventing the wheel (and save yourself some money & energy :-)

Content
"I'm here at this congress at the Vatican, but something is going on... all cellphones are ringing and I hear helicopters outside... I think the Pope is dead!" 
If you have anything worthwhile to share, people will be interested. But the hard thing is to keep it this way. Content should always be up-to-date, dynamic and interesting! Keep people actively involved in your content development, match it to their needs, keep it relevant.

A personal touch
The most successful communities have an on-line and off-line aspect. PSV actively makes an effort to complete the on-line brand experience with off-line activities, for example with their yearly kids-day. Part of Obama's success was personal contact combined with new media, creating movement and action among people. So to make your community a success, on-line and off-line, make sure to keep it personal!

1 comment:

expathos said...

You need a following - Communities are so last Millennium.

Twitter is where it's at - Microblogging has eclipsed the 'community' phenomenon.