The Mequoda criteria for community building expect visitors to feel enthusiastic and loyal to the site. Are they inspired with feelings of belonging and encouraged to contribute?
Websites that encourage a feeling of belonging among users, that offer mechanisms for being involved in the site and that motivate them to become involved are good at community building.
In the fourth chapter of Internet Marketing Strategy for Publishers and Authors authors Don Nicholas and Jane E. Zarem point out some examples of community-building options:
- Chat rooms, discussion boards, and specialized forums
- Comment or testimonial forms
- Q&A surveys and daily polls
- Associated clubs and games
- Classified listings and bulletin boards
- Live online events and blogs
- Opportunities to email articles to friends or associates
For a marketing site, community-building tactics function as word-of-mouth marketing tools and increase both site traffic and search-engine visibility.
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For membership websites, providing a space for members to communicate with one another and to interact with the association or site editors should be a high priority. When that is the case, in fact, members often supply much of the content. A site doesn’t have to be a membership site, however, to act like one and benefit from its resulting community.
Community building adds value to the site experience, as users appreciate the opportunity to participate and to meet others with similar interests. The ultimate goal of community-building programs, therefore, is to increase the consumer’s connection to the site by fostering a sense of camaraderie or belonging among unique groups of individuals.