The Three C’s of an Online Community

I am currently working on a project scope for a large, widespread organization that is seeking to create an online community. The focus of this project is the 3 C’s that are the foundation of an online community.

  • Connected Channels
  • Consistent Message
  • Core Values

Connected Channels in its basic form is the hub and spoke model.

There is a digital home where information is fed from as well as referred to from the various external channels.
Typically your Digital Home will be your website, but it does not always have to be. It could be your Facebook Page or your YouTube Channel. This really depends on your overall strategy.
For the most part, I am of the opinion that your Digital Home should be a site that you have complete control over, unlike Facebook. But I have experienced exceptions.
Your external channels could be Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. Or they could be offline events such as tradeshows. Many times digital strategies tend to neglect the offline activities that directly impact that online strategy.
In a large widespread organization, the hub and spoke model needs to replicate and connect.
The goal of the connected hubs is to ensure that a rising tide raises all of the ships. Each strategy should be leveraging and supporting the other strategies within the organizations, especially in areas where there is a similar audience and message. The connected hubs enable greater efficiency as well as consistency of the message.

Consistent Message is the second C that is the foundation of an online community.

A consistent message means that your audience knows who you are, what you stand for and what your role is in the bigger picture of the organization. However, when it comes to building an online community, a consistent message also means that what you are talking about is consistent with what is on the minds or in the hearts of your community. This starts by listening to the current conversations that are happening throughout the web as well as monitoring top news trends. But creating a sustainable consistent message strategy takes a plan built around an organizational content calendar.
A content calendar maps out the organization’s typical messaging schedule, such as specials, events, and reports, and then fills in the rest with content that people really care about such as holidays and typical life events such as graduation or the start of the school year. The messaging is then developed to make the organization’s content relevant to the community members lives. Space is left open on the content calendar for timely news events such as the state of the economy or the release of a popular new product.

Your content should also be developed with your core values in mind.

I think of core values as who are you trying to serve and how does your service align with what those people value? Steve Jobs talked about that idea best when he presented his new commercial, The Crazy Ones/Think Different.

Online you get to have short bursts of attention from a divided audience to let them know what you stand for. Therefore what you stand for should be the core of every message and every level of engagement of your organization.

Do you agree or disagree that these are the foundations of a great online community? What organizations have you seen embracing the three C’s of an online community?