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If You Build It, They Will Come

Lithium Alumni (Retired)
I spoke of defining your target audience last time, but as was noted in the comments you should be aware that they aren't the only folks who may choose to participate. For example, some other groups we identified as potential visitors/participants in the Lithosphere with differing needs and agendas are:
  • Banned users from our customers' communities
  • Community managers for non-enterprise communities
  • Competitors
  • Solicitors/Spammers
  • Hackers with unlawful intentions
Promotion, structure, policies and procedures - virtually every aspect of your community plan should take into account these other groups and their potential impact on your objectives. This doesn't mean that groups outside our target audience should be ejected; after all, as long as members' activity furthers the goals of the community then their contributions should be welcome. In fact, you may gain powerful insights from outside your main base that would otherwise have escaped you. But it is vital that those other users not be allowed to interfere with or derail your community.

Our aim for the Lithosphere is to be the premier place to share ideas, support others and exchange best practices on community in the enterprise. To meet our objectives and the objectives of our target audience, we've made sure to:
  • Craft announcements, board descriptions, promotional materials and blogs (such as this one) to reinforce our focus on enterprise community
  • Design our board structure to prominently display the most relevant content and provide less highly-placed outlets for submissions that are not as relevant, as well as private areas for approved members only
  • Develop and communicate clear guidelines and procedures to empower moderators to keep submissions relevant and the tone positive
Obviously details and execution are extremely important here, but the key point is to focus on promoting desired behavior and discouraging inappropriate activity no matter its origin.

What unexpected visitors have you received in your community? Was the experience ultimately a positive or negative one?
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