The Contexts Around Which You Build Your B2B Community

CLICK: A design framework for online communities: Context, Linkages, Identity, Conversations, Knowledge Assets

As a part of our research on building B2B communities, I recently did a whiteboard exercise with Kim Celestre and we attempted to categorize all of the different types, or Contexts, of B2B communities. The Context in which your audience wants to engage with your community is the first stage of our new CLICK design framework for building B2B communities, followed by Linkages, Knowledge assets, Identity, and Conversations; the model is outlined in the graphic on the right.  (If you’re a client of ours, check out the full report).

Your community context — defined as the circumstances and settings that determine how you and other community members interact — should be the first design point for a new community. All other decisions, including both if it should be on your own domain or part of a larger social network and the choice of technology platform, will follow.

Please take a look at these dozen different contexts and let me know what you think.  I’ve grouped them along one of the axis of our community strategy matrix; whether or not your brand is central to the community.  I’m especially interested in any contexts you think I’ve left out or that don’t fit. 

Forrester is always looking for new examples for any of these contexts to use in reports and presentations; please share any successful communities you’re a part of or that you administer.  These examples are primarily in the high tech industry, but I’m actively seeking more examples for other B2B industries as well. 

High brand presence: Owner or Promoter

1.       Support (e.g., Cisco Support Community, SAP Community Network)

2.       Ideation/collaboration (e.g., Dell Idea Storm, salesforce.com IdeaExchange)

3.       Developer (e.g., Microsoft MSDN Developer Community, IBM  DeveloperWorks)

4.       Events (e.g., CA Mainframe Madness’s virtual event, IBM Impact’s virtual event)

5.       Partner (Cisco Partner Velocity, Juniper Networks InnoVAR, VMware Partner Exchange)

6.       Market or app exchanges (e.g., Salesforce AppExchange; Google Apps Marketplace)

Low brand presence: Sponsor or Member

7.       Thought leadership and news (e.g., Business 2 Community, IBM Social Business, Kaspersky’s Threatpost)

8.       Education (e.g., Dell’s IT Ninja, Deluxe’s PartnerUp, Spiceworks Community)

9.       Q&A (e.g., Quora, StackExchange)

10.   Content sharing (e.g., papershare, SlideShare)

11.   Crowdsourcing (e.g., 99designs.com, Innocentive)

12.    Ratings and reviews (e.g., Spiceworks Community, IT Central Station)

Comments

user-generated content

Zachary, great piece. I'm wondering, where does user-generated content fit into your model? Might knowledge assets be a mixed bag of content created both by your business and community members? If so, wouldn't the arrows point out from knowledge assets as you design community expansion and growth?

User-generated content is key

I think you have a very good point, that I generally speaking need to make more clear -- user-generated content is key, especially in B2B, because "feeding the beast" that is content needs for social marketing (or all marketing) is a key issue, and whenever you can get your audience to contribute, it's huge.

Thanks.