Challenges of Starting an Online Community

Many of the readings this week discussed ways on how to approach the creation of an online community and some of the questions you should ask yourself when establishing a social media presence. Along with the readings, the Google Hangout discussion with Olivier Blanchard, author of Social Media ROI, indicated that there are many questions on how a company should manage their Online Community Managers. Some companies may find themselves with the lack of experienced personnel to handle the duties of community management or establishing the vision of their social media presence.

Where to Start?

According to David Spinks’ column, the easiest way to start an online community is through the personal connections with your established customers. Invite them to a private Facebook group or Twitter following that will enable them to share their experiences with other customers in the group. According to David, through time and effort, you will have an online community of customers that has the potential to grow into an external audience that can promote your product/service. Personally, I think this is a simple, straight-forward method to start an online community, but can be limiting if you are a startup that does not have an established customer base.

One of the most significant takeaways from the Google Hangout this week was that many companies can struggle with the creation and management of an online community.  If there isn’t executive management support, then initiative must come from within and gradually change the pre-conceived notions of upper executives through the successes of social media integration. Third party agencies are another way to handle the creation of a community, but they must be managed appropriately. A company should never detach itself from an agency due to the high-level of visibility with customers.

Any company that is considering the pursuit of an online community needs to ask itself “why are we doing this” and “what do we want to get from this?” In my opinion these are two crucial questions to ask prior to assigning any resources on the creation of a social media presence. My previous employer spent millions on a social media campaign without taking the time to establish a thriving online community; relying on an agency without internal involvement with the initiative. Clearly, my employer had no idea what they wanted to get from this except for a general sales figure.

Specific, measurable, attainable goals need to be defined in order to measure the success of an online community. I’m curious to see what experiences my fellow classmates have had with determining the success of a social media campaign… If you have experiences, feel free to post comments to this post.

Reaping the Rewards: Community Campaigns

4316028378_74885d814e_nOne of our readings this week was an article on Kommein.com, in this piece, the author listed five questions a Community Manager should ask prior to the launch of a community campaign. There is a significant emphasis that must be placed on preserving the members of the community and their involvement in day-to-day activities. Making them jump through hoops to get to their desired content or products/services is a big no-no. Can you think of any other questions that should be asked while considering an online community campaign?

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