02 Oct 2009

Everything I needed to know about Online Communities I learned in Kindergarten

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What are the things that can make an online community great? You’d be surprised how simple it really is.

Be A Good Student
Your community members are the teachers. They will teach you how to best place your product or service in the marketplace, how to position advertising for the most effective reach, and the right (and wrong) things to do to win them over.

Members want to know how their involvement makes an impact. Let them know how they are affecting your product or service. Share results, give them feedback on how they have helped you. They want the information to flow both ways.

Listen (and know when to be quiet)
Your community members have volunteered to spend their time HELPING you. They have a genuine interest in seeing you succeed — after all, they want better products and services, and want to stretch their dollar further. Listen to what they are saying. Take the time to read and understand their comments and suggestions, and let them know they are being heard.

Be Happy
Be enthusiastic about your research. Make your surveys, quizzes, and discussion topics fun. Make incentives fun. Be thoughtful in your survey layout to avoid tedium. Interesting surveys make happy (and chatty) respondents.

Play Fair
Reward your members fairly for the investment they make in contributing to your success. Be realistic about your expectations of their time. Offer worthwhile incentives that truly show your appreciation.

Make Friends
Keep your members engaged. Personalize your communications with them, assign a single manager to be responsible for their care. Consider publishing a newsletter with direct quotes from other members that will add further intimacy to the experience of membership.

Shari Starkey
Applications Specialist/Panel Administrator


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