A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about social -vs- marketplace motivation based on a presentation from Francois Gossieaux and Lois Kelly from Beeline Labs. At that time I promised to return to their Tribalization of Business study and that’s exactly what I plan to do with this post.
Beeline Labs’ Tribalization of Business study measured the responses of more than 140 organizations – business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and non-profit — which have created and maintain online communities. The communities ranged from fewer than 100 members to 10,000+ members.
The key findings of the study suggest a set of 8 emerging best practices. I think the work they’re doing at Beeline Labs is important and will help companies looking to establish an online community clearly identify realistic goals and measurement opportunities as well as outline a clear path to successful, ongoing engagement.
Lessons learned, advice for others: eight emerging best practices
When asked what their most important piece of advice is for others creating online
communities, survey participants’ advice focused on eight areas:
- Start with the end in mind: “Start with a business strategy, defining carefully what you
want to accomplish through the community.” “Invest most in the area that services your
key business objective.” “Be clear about the purpose of the community.”
- Focus on the value to the members: “Make sure you deliver real, special, unique,
obvious value to the core group you’re hoping to attract.” “Build the community around
existing passion groups.” “The core of the community needs to be of high value or
interest to people, a focus worth contributing to.” “Get insight into what motivates
members to join the community; we found a different motivation than we hypothesized.”
- Don’t start with the technology: “Too often people get drunk with Web 2.0 tool
excitement and then try to push their business and customer goals into the wrong tool.”
- Keep it simple and intuitive: “Focus on the least common denominator first. Keep it
easy to navigate with simple tools to use.” “People are busy; they need information in
brief, easy-to-scan bits they can quickly choose what is interesting to them and go right to
- Keep it fresh and active: “Keep activity levels up, constantly add new content.” “Think
of how to create ‘events’ – what can you do to excite people and get them to share in the
community.” “Update regularly, find topics for discussion.” “Content is king.”
- Have dynamic community leaders: “Make sure you devote enough time to managing
the community; letting it fester is worse than not having it in the first place.” “Participate
but do not try to control. The community belongs to the people, not you.”
- Think through who to involve – or not. “ Get commitment from top management and
communicate, communicate, communicate.” “Get Legal and PR to buy-in and help on
design, but keep them out of active management.”
- Get a passionate core of participants active before launching: “Make sure you have a
committed core of passionate users before you launch.” “You must have a critical number
of high-quality participants to get the momentum going.” “Beta test and seed before
Unfortunately, most people seem to skip the 1st and 2nd principle outlined here and never even consider the 8th. Why do you think this is? Why are we still seeing online strategies that begin and end with the use of a single technology?
Is there anything listed here that deserves more explanation? What would you add to this list? What would you take away?