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Building Revenue Streams - Part Four:

Communities with JoomlaFor any community to be self-sustaining it will need to have some type of revenue stream(s). Even volunteer based communities require funding to keep relevance and growth. There are always trade-offs with how to approach this since visitors do not want to be blasted with more ads than content and advertisers want to have the best possible exposure. With the same token not everyone that adds value to your community is willing to pay to be a member. Picking the right model and strategy can significantly affect your success or failure.

  • How do I plan to build my membership model and how does it fit with my base user?   
  • How much would members be willing to pay for each tier of benefits?   
  • Where would I place advertising or sponsorship?   
  • Are there limitations on or conflicts with certain types of advertisers?   
  • How will I manage the transactions?   
  • What disclosures or legal disclaimers are required?
  • Will I have affiliate, partner or reseller programs?   
  • Where does my community add value to an advertiser?

Once you go through the exercise of asking the right questions you can then set a starting point for determining which approach to roll out and perhaps when might be the best time in your evolution to do it. You will also soon find out that once you start collecting money you take on new risk and responsibility. You will need to make sure you develop articulate documentation and legal notices so you can effectively manage all expectations for your revenue building programs.

Security, integrity and liabilities

One of the first things to make sure of is to have the right business structure in place to facilitate any legal responsibilities with donations or fundraising. Are you able to manage and protect the private information that users will give you through any transaction processing? What disclaimers or legal notices are required for accepting money for your service or subscription offering? These all should be discussed with professional advisers to make sure you are protected and that your users/members/advertisers are protected.

Building a membership program

With Joomla there are many extensions that can help you configure and manage an effective membership program. Make sure that you have a well thought out membership plan so the extra steps of gathering profile information do not deter folks from joining. One challenge with most membership programs is the point of entry. Many sites these days offer FREE memberships to get folks in the door and then once the users find value the hope is they will join. You will need to make sure you are offering enough value without “giving away the farm” sort of speak. If you get folks to join and they are among a few, it will be like going to a party and finding an empty room.  In this case, you better have some guests show up soon or they will leave and never come back or worse they will reflect negatively in social circles that may scare folks away. Develop a tiered approach to membership with clear guidelines and benefits so you can encourage folks to join, tell their friends and keep coming back. You also need to make is a relationship of choice so they can easily unsubscribe. If you have a disgruntled member you want them to go away quickly and quietly without disrupting the rest of your community.

 

Marketing, Audience and Incentives - Part Three:

Connecting with the right people or networks

Communities with JoomlaWhen you consider building a community site with Joomla CMS  or any other technology for that matter, you have to make sure you understand what social or professional need you are filling and where your members will be coming from.  What are the average or common demographic profile elements? You will need to make sure your community “type” or “model” is right for the audience that you want to serve and that you configure your tools and presentation accordingly.

  • Is the group or industry mostly male or female, younger or older and what special interests do they all have in common?    
  • What will be the glue that holds them together in a community and attracts new members to join?
  • How will you capture and keep their attention?
  • What information will you need to push to them or gather from them?
  • What key benefits make your community save them time, money or frustration, or give them a sense of pride to participate in?

Once you have a clear demographic profile of your intended community you will be able to create incentive programs and key selling propositions for marketing your community to the world, even if this world is a small niche market or private membership for an organization. 

Tell a friend, referrals and opportunities to win

If your community is going to grow on its own you will need to make sure it is worthy and interesting enough that members are going to get excited about this and want to invite their friends. You can have things like job opportunities or topical conversations or content collections that spark interest. Perhaps content with a call to action or giveaways will be of interest. All-n-all you need to have an offering that entices your users to participate independently and when appropriate offer them meaningful incentives for doing so.

The right tools and user experience-Part Two:

Community Building Extensions and Customer Experience Using Joomla CMS

Communities with JoomlaWhen building out your technology platform for a community site using Joomla! CMS you have several options for extensions that you can use. The two most popular are: www.jomsocial.com and www.joomlapolis.com. Each has benefits or strengths depending on the type of community you are building and the priorities of how the data associated with user profiles will be handled.

Essentially what these extensions do is, they allow you to build “buckets” of information (extended profile fields) associated with a user profile. These profile fields are linked with the Joomla user profile and authentication system. For example; JomSocial organizes this information differently than Community Builder and thus giving you alternate ways of displaying your profile related content. Comparisons will be beyond the scope of this article but you should make sure that you take the time to evaluate each of these extensions suites based on some the following criteria:

  • How will I need to present profile information?
  • Will I need lists or to segment information from profiles into reports?
  • How will users collaborate in the system and what features do they need?
  • Will they be sharing files and photos?
  • How do their systems integrate with the priority social networks you will connect with?
  • How comfortable are the system administrators with either of the tool suites?
  • Which templates will best support your goals for the look and feel and how will they look?
  • What other extension will be used and are they compatible with them?
  • How will they affect my intended user experience?

I am sure there are other questions that can be asked but either way you should make sure you do a careful evaluation with your developers and stakeholders.

Once you have chosen the most appropriate Community extensions and are comfortable with how they integrate with other potential extensions in your strategy you can start building.

Starting with a plan - Part One:

Communities with Joomla

Joomla is one of the very best platforms for building meaningful communities and sharing content on the web today. With over 9500 extensions, 1000’s of world class template designs, the largest open source development community supporting it and a host of fantastic features built in, Joomla stands out as an easy to use and maintain tool for building online communities. However, building communities with Joomla is more than installing some of the great extensions like JomSocial and inviting a few friends to interact with you online. To build a community you need to have a clear strategy and there has to be a desire or need that you are filling for the people you want to attract.

  • Whom is the audience that you want to attract?
  • What is the main reason folks will be attracted to your community?
  • What type of experience will they have when they get to your community?
  • What will motivate them to return?
  • What will be their benefit for contributing content?
  • What will motivate them to tell others and help you grow your community?
  • What features and information will offer the best value to the community?
  • What will you offer now vs over time and in the future evolution of the community?

Once you start answering some of these questions you can then determine your priorities for building and configuring your Joomla CMS. You can also begin to define or refine a strategy for attracting and engaging your intended community.

Target a niche and build on it:

It is helpful often to consider targeting smaller niche communities such as specific geographical areas that can be grown to larger geographical areas over time once there is success and feedback to help you improve your offering.  Make sure your users get to realize the promise of joining and can build on their experience over time. What is it about your community that will keep them coming back?