A short guide to what makes an online community work
The convenience and ease of the net has eliminated the need for most people to go out. We now do our shopping through the net. We don’t need to fall in line in the bank to perform business functions. In some cases, people even work through the World Wide Web.
This however doesn’t stop us from being social beings. We need to interact with other people. This is not an efficient activity by any means, but you have to remember that we are not machines and we need to have human contact. This is where online community sites come in. When you look at today’s web world it is dominated by sites like, Facebook, MySpace, and other online communities. This is because of the need for humans to connect. You can set up one, too. Here are some simple steps to help you build your own online community:
Encourage them to join. It is important that you know what is encourages other people to join your community. After all, Members are the life blood of your community. Find a common thread, this is especially true because people tend to mingle with people they share common interest with. As communities go, your community should be able to offers benefits that outweighs the hassle of signing up. Some other reasons for a person to sign up for a community includes gaining “street cred”, as a hobby, to learn something new and others that are personal to the new member.
I recommend: take a look at the community sites Second life. It brings people with common interest in gaming together as an online gaming community. Flickr does the same thing wit people who love sharing photos. Of course, YouTube achieves this by presenting videos. These communities provide the benefit of communicating with other people while pursuing their interests.
Keep it going. It is important to get members to join but that is only half of it. You also need to keep their attention in the community. One way to keep the community alive is by encouraging participation. You could grow your community by allowing members to express themselves, making them contributor instead of just plain vanilla members. Like any community, recognition counts, so, give members the ability to rate other peoples work, encouraging them to discuss, improve as well as commend. It is also good to place fresh content every day or every other day.
I recommend: Sites like YouTube enjoys much success through this initiatives. They encourage rating and commenting. They feature new posts everyday through their editors. Of course they also encourage casual viewers to post their own videos by promoting contests through their sponsors. Another example of a community that works well with this is Craigslist.
Recognizing obstacles and dealing with them. It is not enough to know how to encourage people to join and keeping them interested. Much like any endeavor there are hindrances that stop you from enjoying the benefits of it, online communities are no different. Most common excuse is being busy and having no time. You can deal with this by being giving incentive for participation. Hostile, narrow minded or even boring, low quality conversations can discourage people from participating in communities, so, you have to be mindful of maintaining a respectful environment without cutting into the freedom of participations. Some other barriers include lack of interest and lack of knowledge on the subject matter.
I recommend: You can see sites like MSN Live-searchwhere they offer points for every game you play. These points can then be exchanged for merchandise. You can look at communities like craigslist where inappropriate behavior is policed by the member’s itself. After several flaggings of your post, the system will automatically remove the said posts. Lack of knowledge and interest is dealt with by Yahoo! by having a wide variety of content. With its wide array of content it is hard not to find something that is particularly relevant to you.
Get the best. A lot of the potential members of online communities look at how these online communities work. They look at the best user interface; how fast it loads, all the features it provides; and a thousand more little things that they look at. If you are not adept at web 2.0, then it would be best to get some professional help because unless you get the best interface, graphics and features in your site you don’t really stand a chance.
I recommend: There are countless businesses out there that can provide you with the best internet related services providers out there, including . Gossimer is a domain registration and web hosting company that offers great assistance in getting your web 2.0 site up and running (I am CEO of Gossimer). Companies like this offer a long list of services, customized to provide you with the best website out there.
Tips and Tactics
Maintaining respect and movement is important in any community. If things start to become stale, time to start stirring the pot.
Recognize holes early. Online communities are popping up everywhere so it would be best to recognize holes in your strategy faster than you competition.
Take your member’s pulse. Being a community, your most valued assets are your members. That is why it is best to ask them what they want to see in the community. If it is viable, why not give it a try.
Encourage discussions. The main advantage you have over other forms of media is its interactivity. Unlike TV, Newspapers and magazines, online communities have the aspect of sharing. Make good use of that advantage.