Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Community Launch Checklist for Online Collaboration

Community Launch Checklist

Online Communities take a lot of time and energy to be successful. Organizations must understand and prepare for the investment associated, from strategic planning to implementation and execution.

While planning the launch of your online community, we recommend you consider the following:

Roles and Responsibilities

Have you aligned the internal roles and responsibilities required for an online community? In the planning phase, it is imperative that you have full cooperation across all functional teams and groups within your organization.

* Do you have an executive team in place to approve and sign off on strategic initiatives?
* Is your legal team ready and prepared to discuss branding and governance policies?
* Has your IT department allotted sufficient time and staff for the integration and maintenance of the technology?
* Have you built a support team to help customers and community members successfully use the platform?
* Is your marketing ready to lead the way in terms of setting the tone and handling the daily tasks of managing the community?

Be sure you have staffed a social media strategist to lead the overall launch of the community, as well as a community manager or facilitator to support daily developments.

Operating Budget

Have you allocated sufficient funds to successfully build and launch your online community?

* What types of features and services will your site provide to users?
* Are you launching a basic or more advanced site?
* Will your site require design customization?
* Do you have the finances readily available to staff accordingly?
* Do you have the finances readily available to properly market and advertise the community, both at launch and beyond?

Notwithstanding the initial costs of partnering with a community vendor, organizations must take into consideration the costs associated with launching the community, hiring staff and other ongoing expenses. While the costs involved with selecting a vendor will vary, depending on the features and services provided, organizations should expect to allocate approximately $50,000 to $100,000 annually for a basic online community.

Community Research

Building a community that already exists is not generally recommended.

* Have you determined whether your community already exists?
* Is it beneficial to create a new online community or simply engage customers where they already are?
* Have you researched the community offerings of your direct competitors?
* Do your competitors’ communities have a high activity level?
* Is there a demand for a new online community?

By closely monitoring the competition, organizations can determine what is working and what isn’t, and how best to approach plans for an online community.

Policies and Training

A Governance Plan is an important component of the community as it provides the foundation for dealing with unpredictable situations.

* Do you have a dedicated community manager and/or facilitator and a social media strategist to prepare the governance procedures?
* Do you have a rapid response process and guidelines in place to deal with any negative incidents from the community?
* Have you trained the appropriate individuals so these guidelines can be properly enforced?

The more formalized the process, the more successful your community will be.

Technology Integration

Community platforms require development, design and integration with a company’s existing channels.

* Is your IT department ready to tie the community together?
* Have you allocated the time and budget required for future upgrades and maintenance?
* Is your IT team trained in community platform integration?

While the community vendor may be available to assist with the integration, your IT department is solely responsible for the entire integration process.

The Community Launch

Organizations will reap the rewards of a successful online community only if they have customers and members who actually use it.

* What methods of communication will you use to promote the launch of the site?
* Have you designed newsletters, blogs, forums and other similar features on your site?
* Are you leveraging promotions to market the launch?

The launch of an online community should be treated no different than the launch of a new product, and creative, non-traditional means of marketing and advertising will undoubtedly attract people to the site.

Goals, Benchmarks and Measurement Standards

Online communities require detailed timelines and expectations.

* Have you prepared an editorial plan, a strategy for growth and a guideline for specific milestone dates?
* What are your goals and objectives?
* What means will you employ to track the success of your online community?
* How will you collect this data?
* Do you have a team in place to monitor and report on measurement expectations?

Communities are highly measurable, and must be measured in order to track its success.

The wiki text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License agreement http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Source: Community Launch Checklist Submission for Enterprise 2.0 wiki template contest. Submitted by Stephen Rahal IGLOO INC. NOTE: HELIX is a VAR of IGLOO www.helixcommerce.com


Stu said...

Extremely insightful, will be taking some pointers from your knowledge as always!!

Stewart Higgins
Intranet Expert
Intranet Software

Bart said...

Great post! Will definitely use relevant pointers in some of our customer cases.


Bart Schrooten

SEO Moz said...

thnx for the information..
blog is really gud,Help my india is the World Best Forum and Blogging Site which provides the all category of forum and blogging and Social Community site.

Online Communities

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