Community’s importance can be summed up in one word: loyalty. A vibrant community is a loyal participant on your site. They will evangelize your site; they will offer information on how to improve the site and its usability; they will help you run the site – because it means something to them. Many sites are starting to develop communities, because it means that you have a reliable guarantee of traffic and long term brand relationships. Pre Web 2.0 websites’ traffic fluctuated drastically, but with the aspect of community, and specifically community with a “reason” you will find that your traffic is steady and constantly growing
Web 2.0 will change name in the future, but online communities will continue to grow stronger. As social networking becomes the norm of everyday online interaction, people will look for communities that cater to their needs. These communities will develop their own “niche,” and will become more specialized in their needs and interactions. A forward thinking Web 2.0 community will start to develop its own niche communities within the site – to protect the longevity of the community it has brought. Slow reactions to these developments will mean the loss of community. However, utilizing open source infrastructure and APIs we are able to react quickly to these developments and continue to build your Web 2.0 presence now and well into the future.
Building Web Community Approach
1/ BUILDING THE REASON
What Ninthlink does first is develop from “The Reason” down. We find out what the main driving factor is behind the site and develop the tools and feature set that will compel your audience to come to the site and stay on the site. Everything we do on the site will have the site’s “Reason” in mind.
2/ SEEDING THE COMMUNITY
The next step Ninthlink takes after building the tools and feature set is to set up moderators and entities to facilitate interaction and help users on the site. A good example of this is “Tom” as your first friend on MySpace. A community takes shape with leaders showing use and helping new members. After the community gets momentum, these individuals become a “helpdesk” resource for community problems, concerns and bugs.
3/ FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY
Prepare to deliver on the communities’ needs. Just like government representatives, we need to check in on the community, take the temperature, and see what their wish lists, frustrations, bugs and concerns are. This should be an open forum for anyone to post their thoughts. It needs to be well maintained, if the community thinks you are not listening or reacting to them, they will leave for a site that does. A good example of this is Friendster, who didn’t listen to the communities desire to style their own pages, and they lost that traffic to the more “open” MySpace community.
4/ ORGANIC GROWTH
Community cannot be forced, it needs to grow naturally. In order for it to do so, it needs a little help. That’s what Ninthlink does – we work with strategic partners and alliances to help communities organically grow. The needs for Organic growth differs from community to community. The Ninthlink approach is to set up tools, applications and features that bring a community in, let it manipulate its space and develop its own reasons to function and grow. Nurture its voice and/or give it a voice.
Utilizing APIs and open source technology allows Ninthlink to develop tools and features that the community demands at a fast pace. It also allows us to open up the system to the users to develop their own tools. The main factor we try to deliver through tools and a Social Network is a “collective intelligence”; an intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. This is the key factor in developing and maintaining a vibrant community. Where there are challenges, the community will deliver the answer. Our job is to make sure that there are no obstacles or boundaries, and to react quickly if tools, interfaces, or features need to be developed or changed.
5/ SOCIAL SEARCH
Allow the community to develop the metadata that other users can search on and sort by. Allowing the community to drive other users’ experience helps empower their behavior and self-regulates unwanted content from surfacing (such as spam marketing). Social search allows the “tastemakers” to interact with the regular users of the site without direct communication.
Please let me know your thoughts as WE are ALWAYS Evolving the Ninthlink Experience for Clients and Friends.