David Nour, of the Nour Group asked us to comment on a post in the ASAE – The Center for Association Leadership internal discussion area. The post, titled: We Terminated Our Private Community – Was It the Right Decision? was from an Association that had abandoned their private community (not one of ours) and moved over to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They complained about the effort to maintain the community and asked for comments from others. There were several that spoke to the need to have a clear purpose and resources dedicated to ongoing engagement.
David, who runs one of our communities at http://renetworks.intronetworks.com is a noted speaker, author and growth consultant in the field of Relationship Economics, crafted a great response to the post, which with his permission, I have reposted here.
“The overall social strategy needs to be revisited annually, including the desired strategic outcomes from a private community. It works to elevate perceived member exclusivity, benefits (based on different membership levels), thriving discussion groups & forums, sharing of best practices from best practitioners, making relevant member connections before, during, and after events, and most importantly, touching them with value-add throughout the year and not just at your annual meeting.
The challenge for many associations who have deployed private communities in the past has been the flawed assumptions of a) build it & they will come – without consistently creating unique value propositions of why should members care or participate, b) funding it with the necessary resources (human, capital, time & effort) to nurture it, and c) monetize it with sponsorships, content curation, or infusion of thought leadership!
You build anything on a sand trap and neglect it and it will “fail.” Conversely, if you learn from what didn’t work, segment your members based on their needs, modularize your capabilities (including a private community) toward those needs, anticipating their future needs (fantastic use of a private community), rewarding staff for win/win interactions, and transforming their touch points to smart ones so you can continue to learn from their behavior, is the receipt for making an online community succeed!
We’ve had ours for the past 3 years, it has 1,500 active participants and we’re continuing to invest in nurturing it with a refresh of the strategy in 2014.”
David, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. If you would like to talk to us about how a private social network could improve your organization, click the Contact Us button and we will have a conversation.