I have been an online community member for years now. Over the years I have moved from one community to the other. I have stayed in some and I have simply vacated others in as short as a week.
It's great being part of an online community, it enables a person to bring out facets of his persona that may not normally be seen in real life. It can be due to a multitude of reasons. It can be because that facet maybe unnatural in RL (Real life), like say being a pervert? or it can be because a person simply does not have any way to bring that part out in RL, like say no one in your RL community has that same hobby as yours. Or it can also be because in RL, you like to keep a different mask due to some constraint.
Whatever the reason, an online community is a vent in which people can express themselves. This blog itself is part of an online community.
How does this equate to in a corporate setting though? Well just think of the communication that it can actually facilitate. Imagine people from different departments who normally do not interact, getting to interact! that in itself is a plus.
The problem though is in actually building the community. A lot of people think that you just build a site and BOOM! you have an online community. Or just put chat capability or forum capability within your site and BAM! you got a community. A lot of people actually do that and then just expect the people to come in and use it. WRONG!!!!
Dead wrong! you just cannot do that. Even if you spend thousands of USD or even millions in building your site, it will never happen by just wishing it so.
So what do you do then? How do you actually build a community? Is there a secret formula? or a silver bullet as they may say?
Well there is none. It can depend on the exact community that you will be wanting to create.
BUT!! there is one thing that you will need. and will help a lot in creating a site. And that is to actually have a reason for creating the community. There has to be a purpose for people to go to the site and use it. And that is what you have to target.
People congregate together for a reason. What is that reason? What is your reason for building that community? unless you have one, then whatever you do, it will matter squat.