When I give talks on the intersection of open innovation and social media, I often get into discussions on what it takes to make a community work.
This also happened when I met with the participants of the HYPE User Community, which is a group of corporate innovation people using HYPE innovation products and services. By the way, HYPE seems to be doing a great job : – )
I have some experience on making communities work as I have witnessed several initiatives and by running my own groups and networks in both the virtual and physical world. I would argue that the below 5 elements are key to success.
1. “Need”. Many community owners or initiators take it for given that their intended target group has a need for this group or community. This is not always true and they need to remember that they are asking for the most precious thing potential participants have – that is time. They need to find some good reasons for “bothering” them with yet another community or group.
2. Value. If there is a genuine need for connecting and enabling stakeholders within a community or ecosystem, you still have to point out the specific value. One little example could be to help provide an overview of what is going on in the given ecosystem. Information overload is a big problem leaving opportunities for community owners to help solve this.
3. People. You need to have people that really believe in the need of and see the potential value creation in such a community. They must listen to the stakeholders in order to build the features needed and they must act as facilitators helping the stakeholders get to know each other and helping them to get value of the community.
4. Communication. If you are selling a vision as you do when you launch such a community, you need to have a strong communication plan. What stories can be used to recruit the right members and make the current users even more active? Remember that communication on messages is just as important as communicating on products and services.
5. Persistence. It is very difficult to create successful communities that are worthwhile to the stakeholders while also bringing innovation or business opportunities to the owners. It requires lots of experimentation to find the right model and this requires lots of persistence – and time.
This is also caused by the fact that well-run communities succeed not only by delivering value for the stakeholders, but also because of the trust and respect it has gained. This takes time.
These are my starters on this. What do you think?