Five features for a successful online community

by Martin Reed on 2 June 2011 in Snippets

As I have previously mentioned, you shouldn’t focus on features when building a community – people are far more important. That being said, here are some recommended features that your community would benefit from, and that I would recommend.

Profiles – Typically new members don’t fill these out, but as they rise in stature members will begin to share their achievements and skills.

Photos – Photos are shockingly underutilized in online communities. They bring members closer together and share stories in a way the written word cannot match.

Private messaging – Not all communication that takes place in online communities is public. As a community manager you can use the private messaging system to encourage, cajole and thank members. Members can use the private messaging system to develop deeper relationships.

News feed – A lesson from Facebook here. Make it easy for members to see what’s been happening while they’ve been away. Use the news feed to share not only activity but achievements, too.

Contact form – Make sure it’s easy for members to contact you. Make sure it’s easy to find the contact form. Make yourself available in other ways, too; use (and share) a Twitter account, encourage members to contact you via any private messaging system your community has, and consider giving out a telephone number.

Stick with the features mentioned in this post, and you can have a successful online community. Anything additional can be a bonus, but it can also be a distraction.

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