When helping a client plan for an online community, we always recommend starting with the outcomes they’d like to achieve, and then we help them choose the smallest toolset which makes those outcomes possible.
Here are some questions that might be helpful during the planning process:
- Are you looking to build a sustained online community or are you looking to get people together for a 1-time activity?
- Is the goal to build relationships, exchange knowledge, take an action, etc?
- What is the form of knowledge that is getting exchanged? Is it in the form of opinions, stories, quick facts, recommendations, or world view?
- Is it necessary for people to build on each other’s knowledge or is it sufficient to collect their perspectives without any interaction/collaboration/refinement?
- Are there important differences between participants that will affect their interactions?
- Is the group social, professional, or somewhere in between?
- Can participants get together in-person to supplement the online activities?
- How tech savvy are the participants?
- How much time do the participants have to participate in your initiative?
- What leadership roles do you want to make available to participants?
- Are moderators or ground rules are necessary?
- What kind of results do you have to produce? What does success look like? What can you measure to track your progress?
Have more to add to the list? Leave a comment below!