Like most kids, I loved LEGO. I would spend hours building everything from a space shuttle to a house for my chihuahua (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 stuffed between the couch cushions at my cousin's house). Social business needs to be the same. A strong enterprise 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. Enterprise communities should engage users. With recent improvements in areas like gamficiation, this becomes a lot easier.
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.
Next Generational. LEGO has evolved its product offerings. In a previous role, I got to help launch the LEGO Mindstorms NXT (LEGO.com MINDSTORMS : Home). 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, social search engines that knows what you're looking for and find it fast, and adaptive social intelligence to provide more personalized, relevant results.
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 Jive, you can build a variety of vibrant communities.
Leader. Every box of LEGOs comes with one of those cool little, plastic people. Like those guys, it's key to have a community manager, who can serve as the front-man. Altimeter Research’s Jeremiah Owyang (Home | Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing) 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. One of my mentors was Jake McKee, who served on the front lines of community management for LEGO. Check him out Jake McKee | LinkedIn.
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.
Now, if I can only get my hair to stay as perfect as the LEGO girl's....