This is a Drupalised version of Jive's Deirdre Walsh's blog post entitled "What LEGO taught me about Community Building".
Like most kids, I loved LEGO. I would spend hours building everything from spaceships to crazy robots (true story).
As an adult, building a community has that same sense of awesomeness.
Here is a list of the top 7 things LEGO taught me about building a quality community.
Accessibility. You can find LEGO building blocks anywhere (especially in the cup holders in my car). Social business needs to be the same. A strong community should span internally and externally, across departments, geographies, and devices.
Usability. Unlike Ikea furniture, anybody can pick up a few LEGO blocks, stick them together, and build something amazing. A good community should make it easy for members to go from a newbie to expert in record time, with engaging tutorials and introductory tours.
Fun. LEGO allows people spend hours being creative. Communities should engage users. Every week Drupal events are held which help make this a reality.
Beneficial. LEGOs are more than just an entertaining toy. By playing with LEGOs, kids learn things like simple mechanics. The same should ring true for your community - members should learn through building and sharing. Community members should be free to run, study, redistribute, modify and copy the code.
Next Generational. LEGO has evolved its product offerings. When I had more free time I used to play around with LEGO Mindstorms NXT. This flavor of LEGO allows you to build and program robots - a far advancement from the standard building blocks. A good community will also adopt next-generation technologies, such as enterprise applications, deep webservices integration, html5 and responsive design.
Versatile. By buying a single set of LEGOs you can make several different creations. One day, you'll build a log cabin and the next day a castle. Building a community is similar. With an investment in one strong social business platform, like Drupal, you can build a variety of vibrant communities for areas like customer support, sales and marketing, social intranet, etc.
Leader. Most boxes of LEGOs comes with one of those cool little, plastic people. Like those minifigs, it's key to have a community manager, who can serve as the front-person. Altimeter Research’s Jeremiah Owyang studied community manager job descriptions from 16 different organizations and found four key elements: community advocacy, brand evangelism, savvy communication skills and editorial planning, and liaising between internal decision makers and community members. In the Drupal community we don't need to link to LinkedIn profiles of people who inspire us. All the cool people have accounts on drupal.org - including Dries.
While building a community might not feel like child's play, just remember that it can be fun and the hard work will pay off in the end. Communities are real things that involve people, they are more than a website built using a CMS. As an example look at recent DrupalCons or BADCamp.
Now, if I can only get belly to be as flat as a LEGO minifig's....