Let’s boil this right down.
At a bare minimum, all online communities need:
1. A clear, communicable identity and purpose.
You need to be able to keep the purpose of your community short and snappy.
Think elevator pitch – but even shorter.
If you can’t condense the purpose (and benefits) of your online community down into a few sentences, then it isn’t focused enough.
2. To focus on the best.
You should be continuously striving to be the best in your chosen niche.
Your community needs to be able to attract the best members, it needs to create the best content and you should always be drawing attention to your best content and your best members.
3. Appropriate barriers to membership.
Free, quick and easy isn’t always desirable.
You may want to make it difficult to join the community. If you’re running an online community for professionals, you may want to put up an application form (not everyone gets in). You may want to charge an application fee.
Many forget that how you allow people to join your community has a big influence on the type of community you’ll be managing.