Mistakes to avoid or 14 ways to destroy your online community.

1. Don’t get business buy-in or executive sponsorship or budget before starting your online community. The executives understand nothing about this social stuff! Just do it without any formal sponsorship or even a social media policy. The other employees won’t mind.

2. Don’t bother to create a business strategy, mission and vision of your online community. Assume social media is just a fad — this too shall pass. Don’t bother paying attention to all those geeks and marketers and all this noise about social media generation and changes businesses are experiencing due to social networking. Just stick your head in the sand and wait for it all to go away.

3. Hire the tool vendor to show you the way in the social media world. They are software vendors so they must know something about business strategy, right? They will be able to do revenue models and business goals for you. Besides, why would we need something specifically customized for our business objectives?

4. Don’t bother integrating social feedback data into your organization. The information gathered through your online community is not so important and creates more work for the IT people. Just engage online and ignore the analysis and reports. It’s all about marketing anyway — right?

5. Throw full range of features at the wall and hope something sticks. Add as many new features to your community as possible to make sure it’s filled with all latest stuff. Business people love to struggle and learn how to use new tools.

6. Just let PR people do all the work or, better yet, outsource the whole social project. Who cares about customer relations and the idea that successful online community is about building relationships? Let’s that agency tweet the heck out of this content, webinar, idea, etc … people will love it!

7. Everyone loves a surprise, so don’t bother launching with a beta group. Involving users in the design of the community takes too much time. Just design the features and functions without them and assume they will like it because you know better than your customers and members about what they want.

8. Don’t “feed” your community once it is open. Fill it with people by hiring a marketing team and just see where things go. Assume the members will do all the work from the start and they don’t need content or assistance after they have joined.

9. Bigger is always better, size is THE most important elementen of success. Meet your membership growth goals with anyone and everyone regardless of their relation to your niche and demographics . If they have an Internet account they are welcome, even if they have nothing in common or interest in collaborating with other members. More community members is the key, just like having more twitter followers is better. The numbers prove we are popular.

10. Be sure to monetize the community at every opportunity. People like to be annoyed with micro-payments and teasers when they are using Internet. Ignore the business strategy or never develop one. Just give people lots of opportunity to pay for access and content at every turn.

11. Assign any underutilized employee as a community manager, regardless of their ability to moderate or facilitate knowledge sharing. This will give them something to do. You won’t need to train them on best practice — there are no new skills involved in doing social business.

12. Don’t bother with a newsletter or steady, predictable communication to members. Of course they will visit your community during their busy work day and they’re sure to remember and bookmark your site.

13. Don’t evolve the business based on member feedback and suggestions. A community is done at launch. Go tell your investors and executive team the community mission is accomplished as soon as the site is up and running and don’t look back.

14. Measure everything, even meaningless metrics — you want to look good! Counting posts (include all those “me too” messages to bump up your numbers), members and never mind their engagement, relevance or visit frequency. One-time visits all make you look really good and don’t try to show how those numbers serve your business and customers.

We also recommend you to check out these great complimentary resources:

For your online networking success and until next time.

B2BPioneers Program