Community Building Methodology

Many of our projects use our enterprise 2.0, web publishing and collaboration tools to build web communities.  These projects need to go beyond the regular change management challenges associated with using a new software platform: for web community building there are specific culture changes required to get people to adopt social media tools and to encourage regular participation so the new web community can thrive.  From the many web communities we've been involved with, we've distilled our ideas and findings in to a methodology for successful implementation that we call SWITCH.  That's an acronym that stands for:

Start with the end in mind
What's in it for me?
Intuitive and simple
Technology supporting not leading
Community management
Help and support

The first two items are absolutely vital.  We see too many social media projects that are technology led, with no clear business purpose defined.  If you haven't put yourselves into the shoes of your target audience, and made sure there are sound reasons why they should turn up, consume and contribute, then your community will fail.    As you are building your community, the important things to focus on are the number of visitors, the number of active users, and how often people post and comment - the conversations.  The measures that the old style, traditional online marketeers focus on like page views and time on the site just aren't relevant.  Number of comments is a much better guide to the influence of the post author than merely page views.  The key measure that we watch to gauge the success of a community is the comment to post ratio.  If you get at least 2 to 1 comments to posts or better, then the community is doing well and heading towards being self sustaining.  However, for any community, the top two areas of difficulty are attracting new members and community management.  Most people underestimate, often quite dramatically, the effort involved to start and keep the community going.  

To find out more, please take a look at the customer case studies on this site or contact us for more information.