Stakeholders are essential to creating and developing a thriving, vibrant, successful community. Without stakeholders there can be no community.
When you start your community, begin by asking some of the following questions:
- Who are your key stakeholder groups?
- What goals have been defined for this group?
- What are the risks involved in having a group with varying community needs?
- Have you identified the potential impact or support each stakeholder could generate?
- Have you assessed how each stakeholder is likely to react or respond in various situations?
- How will you engage with users, providers and other stakeholders to recognize the discreet and particular needs of each group?
- How will you ensure that the methods you use are tailored to meet their needs?
The demographic makeup of the key stakeholder groups must be considered when designing an online community. Online communities are relatively new in the professional realm so older professionals may rely heavier on conventional means of communication such as email, document sharing (attachments), etc. Younger professionals, considered the Net Generation, might make more significant use of interactive media such as blogs, forums, messaging, commenting, rating, sharing, etc. The specific needs of each stakeholder group must not be overlooked.
Because of the diverse nature of the stakeholder groups, you will have to prioritize features and functionality, and quite possibly, governance practices. It is rarely possible to accommodate all interests, especially in early deployments. However, this is imperative for adoption and sustainability.
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