All community developers want their online community to be successful. What determines whether an online community is successful? When can you confidently declare your online community to be a success? This article will help you decide.
What are online communities?
Online communities are places where people come together to share thoughts, opinions and ideas in a virtual environment. They can take on many forms, including forums, social networks, chat sites and blogs. As soon as people start to interact in a virtual environment, an online community is created.
Just because you have generated interaction on your site, it doesn’t mean you have a successful online community. You need to ensure this interaction is sustained.
Online community success factors
There are a number of ways an online community can be judged to be successful. Here are a few ideas:
- The number of members
- The number of interactions (for example, in forums the number of posts)
- The amount of revenue being generated
- The value of the relationship being built between the community brand and its members
- The amount of traffic the community is attracting
- The buzz or brand image of the online community
These are only a few points by which some community developers will judge the success of their online community. It is important to remember though, that what is important for one developer will be completely different for another.
Someone new to the development of online communities may simply be looking to attract the largest number of members possible. Once they reach 5.000 members, they may consider their community a success. A large corporation developing a community in order to build a relationship with its customers will have completely different criteria for success.
What are your individual goals?
You will struggle to declare your online community a success if you don’t have any goals or targets. Only you can determine when your online community is successful, based on what you want to achieve. If you want to develop a site for a few passionate members to talk about a niche subject, then even if you only have ten members you can justifiably call your community a success.
A big brand looking to develop a positive relationship with its customers may have 100,000 members and a million posts, but if the content is full of negativity about the brand and its products, the community is a failure.
Don’t judge your community against others. Your community is unique. Your goals are unique. Your success factors are unique. Know what you want to achieve and strive to reach your goals. When you have, you can declare your community a success. Traffic levels, members counts and revenue are not the primary determinants of an online community’s success. You are.
Is your online community a success? What makes your community successful? What are your individual goals? Do you think there are a generic set of accomplishments that every online community needs to achieve in order to be successful? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.