Category Archives: Community Building

Product Community vs. the Social Community: Which Is Better?


Art by Laura Wilson –

The product focused community:  the hard sell approach

A product focused community will typically have a lower tolerance for off-topic discussion than a “social” community. These communities will normally be focused on support, product questions and discussions with existing owners. The main selling factor of these forums is aspirational, a prospective customer can read about your product, interact with existing owners and begin to develop a Gollum/One Ring style relationship with it. For a great example of this, you need look no further than the official Tesla forums. All content is product focused, and as a heavily aspirational brand it benefits hugely from this. With premium priced products such as this (or say, Apple products), customers will also be keen to talk to each other about how great your product is and reinforce the wisdom of their own decision to pay more. In communities like this, a wider focus and chatty atmosphere would detract from the value of the forum. They benefit from a tight focus and controlled environment.
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Should you soft launch your community?

Community launch

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of launching a community is the moment where it actually goes online. All your preparations are finally tested, your plans go into action and your users step, blinking, into the glorious light of your new community. A lot can go wrong. Your moderators could become befuddled by the interface, your categories may turn out to be confusing or redundant, your theme might aggravate the eyeballs of your userbase. The list of potential hiccups is endless. Given how hard it can be to rescue a community once it starts going south, it’s understandable to look for a way to manage that risk. Soft launching can be a good way to do this. In the simplest terms, a soft launch is opening your community to a limited number of users to test and perfect before opening them to the larger community. In software terms, it’s similar to a closed beta.
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The Changing Role of Facebook and Twitter for Customer Communities

It’s been several months since brands have come to realize that they are no longer going to be able to reach  their customers or fans organically on Facebook. For companies, Facebook, with it’s 1.3 billion users has become a big advertising platform with some great targeting tools rather than a social network.

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Before You Close Your Comments or Community, Let’s Talk


Reflections One Year After PopSci Closed Comments

It has been more than a year since Popular Science shut down their comments. For those not aware, the main argument was noted here:

As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.

Online Director Suzanne LaBarre added that “Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story.” It was then suggested users could reach out in other ways:

There are plenty of other ways to talk back to us, and to each other: through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, livechats, email, and more.

Moving the comments off their platform, to be splintered and scattered to the wind, seems like a real shame.

PopSci is Not Alone.

This is not to pick on PopSci. There are examples of other companies closing discussion and pushing users off their platform. Continue reading

4 Things to Consider Before Enabling a Plugin in Your Community Forum

I’m notoriously cautious about adding new features to my forum. As awesome as shiny new buttons are, and as exciting as added functionality may seem, new features present one of the strongest change factors for any community. The biggest change that my community ever went through was moving to Vanilla from our old, broken software platform. It was held together with twigs and twine. Our server was operated with a hand crank. If you kicked it, animal noises came out. I was still cautious.
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