- How will I define success? If you don't know where you're going, you definitely won't get there. Are you going to measure number of registered users/followers/fans? Page views? Posts? Is the community supposed to contribute to marketing efforts, or is it a "labor of love?"
- Am I monetizing, or not? There is a case to be made for online communities that exist for intangible ROI, buzz, or fan-building. But you need to get straight in your head whether you will charge a premium for certain features, run ads, or ask for donations. Does cold, hard cash figure into your equation?
- How open/closed will I be? Do I need COPPA registration? Is your community wide open, or do you pre-approve registrations? Do you moderate comments? Do you have censor words? If so, what are they? What are your community guidelines?
- Who is in charge? Like any good party, your online community needs a host. Preferably someone with lots of people skills, knowledge of your platform(s), and very thick skin. Someone is going to need to be the point person, present in the community and guiding it to success.
- Where are my seedlings? You can call on your existing relationships to seed your new community. Do you know how to reach them? Are there subject area experts you can invite?
- How will I tie it all together? Think about your existing community tools. How will you create a seamless experience for your users? Consider integrating the branding, logins, and content wherever you can. Will you offer forums? Blogs? Chat events? All of the above?
Did I miss any important points? Feel free to add to the list.
...and if you're considering starting your own community, and need help sorting all of this out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd love to help get you moving in the right direction!