Starting with a plan - Part One:
Joomla is one of the very best platforms for building meaningful communities and sharing content on the web today. With over 9500 extensions, 1000’s of world class template designs, the largest open source development community supporting it and a host of fantastic features built in, Joomla stands out as an easy to use and maintain tool for building online communities. However, building communities with Joomla is more than installing some of the great extensions like JomSocial and inviting a few friends to interact with you online. To build a community you need to have a clear strategy and there has to be a desire or need that you are filling for the people you want to attract.
- Whom is the audience that you want to attract?
- What is the main reason folks will be attracted to your community?
- What type of experience will they have when they get to your community?
- What will motivate them to return?
- What will be their benefit for contributing content?
- What will motivate them to tell others and help you grow your community?
- What features and information will offer the best value to the community?
- What will you offer now vs over time and in the future evolution of the community?
Once you start answering some of these questions you can then determine your priorities for building and configuring your Joomla CMS. You can also begin to define or refine a strategy for attracting and engaging your intended community.
Target a niche and build on it:
It is helpful often to consider targeting smaller niche communities such as specific geographical areas that can be grown to larger geographical areas over time once there is success and feedback to help you improve your offering. Make sure your users get to realize the promise of joining and can build on their experience over time. What is it about your community that will keep them coming back?
Maintain current and regular content:
Having and maintaining current and relevant content on a frequent schedule will not only continue to attract new users searching the web but it will also give users reason to return more frequently for new content.
Engage in social conversations:
With the social revolution well underway you will not only need to integrate with the current popular systems such as Facebook and Twitter in some way but you will need to be responsive to the conversations your users are trying to have with your community and where they intersect with these other communities. Remember groundswell effects from conversations can have both a positive or negative effect on your community and you must be prepared to direct the conversations in your favor whenever possible.
Protect your community and stay up to date:
Security and privacy are a major concern for folks entering private information into your site profiles and you need to safeguard and protect this with carful configuration of your privacy and security settings. To secure your portal framework will need you need maintain it with regular updates to the software and extensions. Using tools like SecureLive (www.securelive.net) to further protect your community from hackers and pranksters is also a great idea.
For more information on Building Communities with Joomla CMS see other related articles in this series.
Part Two: The right tools and user experience
Part Three: Marketing, Audience and Incentives
Part Four: Building Revenue Streams
Christopher Nielsen is the CEO/General Manager for www.cnpintegrations.com and will be a featured speaker at the Joomla Day Chicago event August 10th 2012.
For more information on the myPugetSound.net Case Study presentation about building communities with Joomla! CMS visit: http://joomladaychicago.com