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+ Five Essential Ingredients of a Social Tech Community

Much has changed since the earliest days of social media, when technology vendors were experimenting with online communities to foster partner communications.

Some communities have grown to become powerful, thriving hubs of information, while others have quietly fallen away. What makes for an engaging vendor-channel online community? In a recent blog post, The VAR Guy set out to answer just that question and revealed five key ingredients for building an engaging social community:

1. Don't build yet another social network. Even big players like Cisco have learned this lesson the hard way, after watching their event-specific communities die off once the event closes. Today, most vendors depend heavily on third-party social-media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) to engage online audiences.

2. Get companywide participation. Social initiatives often evolve through the work of one or two people—and benefit from a few strong voices. But to keep the content and dialog fresh, you need commitment from your entire organization, across multiple social-media pipelines.

3. Use video. Check the Cisco Blog and Oracle Channel Chief Judston Althoff's blog to see how video is being used effectively.

4. Don't require login. If you want an open dialog, don't force users to "log in" to virtual tradeshows or comment areas. Competitive content should require a login, but the more open vendors keep their systems, the more frequently readers come back.

5. "Build highways to your castle," writes The VAR Guy. Create a strong blog first, then use multiple roads (e.g., pages on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to drive users to your hub.

The Po!nt: Building a thriving social community takes more than one key ingredient. Like any great recipe, it's the right combination that keeps them coming back for more.

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