Top 3 Questions to Ask Before You Set Up an Online Community

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There are number of reasons why building a community online makes sense for new businesses and old businesses alike. When your company enjoys a thriving user community it acts as a great asset. It is a source of knowledge which is independent of physical location and time. It is also a fantastic way to get information from the newest generation. You can integrate new ideas like feature requests. You can also use your online community as a small window into the minds of your customers; you can converse with them in this setting and offer support for any questions or issues. Customers can also turn to other customers for responses to their issues. For your company that will lead to ticket deflection which decrease your support cost.

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Question 1: What is Our Business Strategy?

But before you open up to the online user community you should consider your strategy. Strategy refers to your business goals as well as your customer goals. It is this strategy that will determine the structure of your online community as well as the resources required and the level of commitment required on your end. For instance, you may want to design a public community or an exclusive community. In either case, the platform will not be suitable for every business and all customers, which is why it is imperative to the success of your business that you consider your strategy and the customers you want to attract to the online community.

After these details have been decided upon, you will need to determine the features you will have and the structure of the online community. You might want to allow comments on all of the online knowledge base articles, or you might have the ability to comment on release notes and announcements. Your company’s online community might want a feature request, a community for tips, or a general community question and answer section. You might even want all of these items!

Question 2: Who Will Shoulder the Responsibility?

The next consideration for your online community is the responsibility. No community will enjoy success unless you have someone out there ensuring it is productive. This refers to a community manager. This position is one that requires an individual with the skills to encourage participation in the community, drive growth, and measure the outlines in line with your aforementioned strategy.

Your business may be large enough that you can afford to hire a full time community manager, but more than likely, you will need to assign this responsibility to your support leadership. And this is the point where the daily community support is concerned; your organization will need to decide which people are responsible for monitoring the questions that users post in the community. You might assign the same individual tasked with monitoring to answering the questions too, or verifying the answers that community members post. And if they do not know the answer, they should be able to direct it to someone on your staff who does. This role can be permanent one or it can be assigned on a rotational basis. If you are unsure of who will fill this role, consider which members of your staff have an affinity for connecting to people naturally and pick them.

Question 3: How Do We Communicate In-House?

The last thing you need to consider after nailing down your strategy and combining your resources, is communicating to everyone in your company the purpose of building this user community, and explaining how it will influence your organization so that they can inspire interest in it too.

Author Bio: David Miller is an educational researcher, involved in the fields of teaching and online learning. He is associated with prestigious universities and many leading educational research organizations. As an ed-tech veteran, his area of research also includes new technologies for online training such as LMS Systems. Currently David is experimenting with flipped classroom models and ProProfs.

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