In a post at the Viral Garden blog, Mack Collier discusses why so many companies struggle to launch and maintain active online communities. To find success, you'll need more than a message board and good intentions, he says. Here's some of his advice:

  • Communities grow and thrive when you offer members something of value. "[They] do not form around the idea of being monetized," he says. "Want to make money off your community? Fine, but you can't monetize something that doesn't exist."
  • They don't materialize out of thin air. "One of the biggest myths about online community building is 'if you build it, they will come,'" says Collier. He suggests reaching out to your target audience and explaining why they'll benefit from participation.
  • They benefit from the enthusiastic support of key participants. Some members will take a natural lead—identify these evangelists and show your appreciation. "Empower them to promote your community to others," he says. "Showcase their contributions. And above all else, say thank you."

The Po!nt: Don't take anything for granted, and have a clear purpose. "[B]efore you start your online community-building effort," advises Collier, "think about where you are, and where you want to be. Is the goal to make money, or is the goal to create a group of happy people?"

Source: Viral Garden. Click here for the full post.

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