Richard Millington writes a fantastic blog called Feverbee. It is a wonderful resource for community managers. Here are his 11 Fundamental Laws Of Building An Online Community.
1. Community Manager - You must have someone who wakes up worrying about your community every day.
2. Purpose - Your Community must have a sense of purpose that matters to the people you are trying to reach.
3. Technology - Use the tools/platforms that your members are familiar with. User Experience Design is crucial.
4. Content - You should create content about your community.
5. Build relationships - You should have good two-way relationships with your top members.
6. Allow for debate - Good debates are vital for a successful community.
7. Build before launching - There should be a huge need for the website before you launch it.
8. Recognise - Always recognise individual contributions from your members
9. Encourage recruitment - One of the best ways to grow an online community is by referrals. Encourage your members to recruit their friends.
10. Share your powers - Ideally you should hand over some level of control and power to members to help run parts of your site. This increases their involvement and ownership.
11. Don’t rule with an iron fist -Do not use your admin powers unless it is absolutely necessary. Every post you remove is an admission of failure, it means you let the wrong members in or didn’t create the right environment.
In fact whilst writing this post I accepted the membership of a “Spammer,” into one of the communities I manage. But. It is only through failure that I believe we learn. And no matter what happens, always be honest with your community.