Your Online Community Stinks


While you're coming to terms with the fact that your blog stinks, you might want to consider that your social networking effort is lame, too.

Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members - despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.

Ben Worthen spoke with Deloitte consultant Ed Moran about the reasons these things fail. Among the culprits: too much focus -- and spending -- on technology, at the expense of community development; putting the wrong people, and not enough people, on the job; and misunderstanding the metrics of success.

I think one way to look at online communities is to ask not what they can do for your company, but what your company can do for them. Few products or corporations inspire fierce loyalty among consumers (Apple is an exception), but lots of products fit into the routines of actual, organic communities -- dog lovers, parents, hobbyists, and so on. Maybe the trick is to serve those communities, and absorb the goodwill doing so generates for your brand, instead of treating social media like an old-fashioned radio ad that shouts the virtues of your wares.


2 Comments for "Your Online Community Stinks"

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  • Aaron Strout July 18, 2008 4:49 pm

    Ed, great post. I hear this story again and again, all with the same punchline. It's a shame because companies that focus completely on the tools and forget about things like great content and community management (and/or moderation) ultimately fail and then turn around and tell everyone they know that community doesn't work for business. At our company (we build online communities for Fortune 1000 businesses) we've found that communities that have the highest success rates are those that are well planned, have their community strategy aligned with their corporate strategy, are managed properly and have the buy-in of the C-Level executives prior to implementing any specific technology. If you ever want to chat further about this topic, you can find me on Twitter - @astrout. Best, Aaron

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