Considerations for Building Online ConnectionsNancy White
Like any communication activity, building online connections with your clients, constituents or co-workers requires a strategic approach that identifies your communications goals and the needs of your target audience. Like any other trend, the temptation is to build community because it is the buzzword. But many have realized that without a strategic objective, building online community can be an expensive endeavor with potentially disappointing outcomes.
Critical questions to ask include:
- Can I describe my target audience and understand their needs, interests and motivations?
- What benefits will the online connections offer my target audience? Can they be clearly stated? Are they attractive to my target audience and meet their needs?
- What benefits will these online connections offer my company, project or organization? Is the benefit worth the cost?
- What are the risks and am I prepared to handle them appropriately? (i.e. if the community becomes negative or destructive.)
- At what level of technological readiness is my target audience? Will they be able to use the interactive tools I offer easily and with minimal support?
- Does my target audience have the appropriate amount of time to use the interactive tools I will provide?
- What resources do I have to devote to interactive features of my website? This includes the software and hardware, site maintenance and person-time for building and maintaining the relationships I hope to generate through online connections.