All the hype as well as the overwhelming focus on using social media for outbound marketing can distract companies from really understanding how communities fit into their business processes and operations - and the considerations organizations need to account for before they decide to employ a community strategy.
Here at Mzinga, we have a couple of different assessment frameworks. The first is a framework for understanding culture and communication styles - this is really to understand how 'WE' a company is at the individual level. We have a second model too - a WE Corporate Assessment framework that lays out six operational components that will determine where on organizational maturity scale a company is. the six components are:
- Corporate Structure & Operations
- Community Membership
This is not a judgement but rather a way to make sure that your community efforts are operationally aligned so that they will be as successful as possible given where you want to be on the spectrum. In reality most companies are more ahead in some areas than others but that mis-alignment can hamper success. For example, if your vision is to use community to reduce support costs and improve customer satisfaction and culturally everyone is supportive but you haven't budgeted anything for content development or moderation...you may end up with a pretty sparse community.
Something to think about as you consider either deploying or re-engergizing your community efforts. Using communities can bring great rewards but they are not free or cheap to deploy and sustain. For more information about what it means to be WE, see: http://www.wearesmarter.org
Feel free to use the graphic above but please credit Mzinga!