Taking the best practices from our customers' development of engaging branded communities, we have identified a four-stage process, which, when deployed over a 3- to 6-month period, can lead to successful community projects.
To develop a holistic online experience you need to start with a customer-focused plan. Don't rush your strategy, work out your business objectives and ask yourself: what value does the community provide for the brand and your customers? And, what would make a member want to join and contribute?
As your community site is built, plan for the introduction to reach most likely contributors, as you will want to foster many-to-many relationships. An early sign of success is to get regular contribution to the site and return visits. Avoid vendor-contributed content. The 90-9-1 principle may apply, where some people actively participate more than others.
This is about growth – it's time for you to seriously analyze the metrics and measure progress towards your goals. Are members connecting, contributing, and responding in ways that you expected? What have you discovered about how they connect with the brand that you didn't already know? What do you need to change or adapt your plan?
How does the community evolve over time and stay relevant? At this point, branded communities are still new, so there is not a lot of data here. What we do know is there has to be a reason to go back – based on content, you should strive for this reason and be more than just the next brand interaction, such as the next purchase, so the brand value stays fresh.
To read the whole guide please download the whitepaper "The Blueprint for Building Social Communities".