Friday Buzz: How Open Should Your Online Community Be?

A community engagement pro offers some nuanced thinking about what makes a good association community. Also: Is it possible to get some personal space during an airport layover?

It might be one of the most challenging questions your association faces when you set up an online community: Do you leave the community closed and keep it a member benefit, or do you let nonmembers in?

A lot of factors go into that decision, and on her site Community by Association, Marjorie Anderson of the Project Management Institute works out much of the calculus in a recent blog post.

“Most associations have a target segment that they cater to. They build their products and services around those segments and innovate on their behalf based on their needs,” she writes. “An online community fits nicely into that equation because it provides an opportunity to obtain insight into what members want/need, right-in-time developments in a specific area or topic, and ways to communicate with the market when feedback is needed quickly.”

While both approaches—open and closed—have benefits, Anderson suggests considering a hybrid approach that offers some access to nonmembers but restricts premium content to members only. This formula can improve the makeup of the community, she argues, and also works as a subtle selling tactic.

“It exposes nonmembers to the benefits of membership without a hard sell and gives them the opportunity to join if they see the value in it,” she writes.

Serenity at the Airport

Traveling is stressful, at least party because airports are stressful. Wouldn’t it be great to escape the craziness while at the airport, at least for a little while? Over at Forbes, travel writer Leslie Wu notes that some businesses are catering to travelers by offering an oasis or two in the terminal, in the form of private pods, more sophisticated lounges, and even green space. (On the other hand, a nice pair of noise-cancelling headphones might do the trick.)

Other Links of Notes

Time to ditch the carousel? Nonprofit blogger Kivi Leroux Miller says it’s time to get rid of the web design mainstay in favor of something simpler.

Speaking of websites, the YourMembership blog argues you might be missing an important online asset: an event microsite.

On the hunt for a speaker for your next annual meeting? Meetings Today has some useful advice.

(cherezoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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