My first community Turned Ten Years Old March 10th!
After a decade of community building, here are a few things I have learned
Some Observations About Planets and Such
Online communities are like little planets, each with their own ecosystem. As a community manager, you provide the venue for conversations to happen. Once they happen, it is your job to make sure the content becomes categorized, tagged and grouped with relevant items. Of course you must make members aware that such place of your creation is the type of a place for people of suchness to discuss what it is worth discussing. In order to help others of such suchness find your place for discussing such so that they might discuss such too. As such, you must "do" certain things outside of your community, like linking back to those discussions and photos which continue to bring in new members. Only the best of the best content originating on your site will attract visitors. Visitors interested in such may become members in order to join such discussions. Then it becomes up to you to decide what you need to know about their relation to such through profile questioning. As founder, you must gauge whether or not they qualify for membership. There is a good chance that a follower of your facebook page will already be interested in your topic, as long as you stay on topic. If you stray too far from the topic, members will leave.
The Questions We Ask
The questions you ask them should require answers by which you test their humanity and sanity, unless you're building a social community for robots and refrigerators, think of it as a quiz. This quiz is the best kind of quiz because they can always change the answers to reflect who they actually want themselves to be seen as online. The answers they save become the about section on everyone's profile. With the right tuning, a member's profile could be as impactful as a living resume. The answers they provide can tell you whether they are joining for the right reasons. Their profile become the criteria upon which all other members will gauge them as well. You shouldn't accept every person who joins to increase numbers. The person who joins must be deeply interested in the specific subject matter of your community. If not and they still try to join, they have ulterior motives, which may cause you stress eventually. In my experience I have noticed that if a person will not take the time to fill out their profile, they will never contribute anything to your community. Avoid the pain of spammers joining by asking well thought out questions in addition to using the other social platforms as your qualifiers for new members. That is where facebook, twitter, tumblr, pinterest, instagram and any number of other services become your community satellites, amplifying your message to other planets and to people in the future who haven't even been born yet..