Quality content is a great way to attract the people who are needed to form the elusive community that your brand is hoping will to help build. When considering community initiatives, there are three questions to ask yourself. 1. Where will the content come from? 2. Does it provide indisputable value? Can a regular flow of quality content be maintained? Even pre Web 2.0 initiatives such as beinggirl.com, a community for female teens grappling with relevant topics have to focus on keeping the content itself fresh and relevant.
Context means understanding how to meet people where they are up and serving up the right experience at the right time. Well designed applications and functionality have great opportunities to deliver on context. For example, Facebook’s recently updated iPhone example is perfectly designed for contextual usage in the go. It’s my favorite way to stay in touch with my Facebook community which I prefer to do while away from the PC. Context means investing time in knowing how your users will want to engage with their community—then enabling them to do so.
Communities thrive on squishy, hard to measure activities that are relationship based at the root. It’s not about a mass communications but more about the micro-interactions which I’ve talked about at great length. Designing experiences which support thousands of micro-interactions means you are making a commitment vs. trying to produce a one-hit wonder. Communities can in theory be the new CRM (Customer Relationship Management), but require people to be minding it. This should tell you that if you’ve invested in building a community framework, you need to play host if you’re lucky enough for guests to arrive.
Communities which thrive often evolve over time to meet the evolving needs of users. Communities needs to be flexible to evolve over time while still providing a valuable and consistent user experience which can be sustained over time.