While we’re busy constructing a plan or community success, we may forget to account for simple mistakes that could crack the foundation that we’ve built everything upon. Many community builders have walked this path before, planning everything down to the last detail only to realize that they failed to address the most basic foundational elements of community planning.

While some community builders have made these missteps along the way to community success, they’ve also taught us invaluable lessons that we can use to ensure that our communities don’t suffer the consequences.

After all, at CMX, we like to think that failure is just part of the learning process.

That’s why, in our research with Leader Networks, we not only looked for the factors that contribute to community  success, but we also looked for the most crippling mistakes that led to failure.

These are all mistakes that any of us could make, and it’s essential that we create action plans to mitigate the risks they could cause — the sooner, the better.

Reasons for Lack of Success

Pitfall 1: Lack of internal support

If your team or the organization as a whole doesn’t buy in to the value of what community can do for the business, this is an almost surefire path to community failure.

In fact, over 30% of survey respondents attribute their community’s failure to a lack of support. It’s essential that this internal support is held firmly in place.

Resources to Help You Avoid This Mistake:

Pitfall 2: Misalignment between Business Goals and Member Needs

Oftentimes, businesses will invest in community because they think it will benefit them in some way, but they fail to carve out that benefit (see Pitfall 1) or they fail to carve out how that benefit can be win-win for their members.

Building a valuable community is all about finding where member needs and business goals align.

Resources to Help You Avoid This Mistake:

Leader Networks’ Guide to Building a Business Case

How Optimizely took a step back to align their member pain points with business goals to re-launch their community site

Pitfall 3: The community lacks engagement

When both Pitfall 1 and Pitfall 2 occur, Pitfall 3 is inevitable. But even if you have a solid business case for community and a clear value proposition for your members, you can still fail if you don’t create a solid strategy for consistently engaging your members.

Even if you’re still figuring out which engagement tactics work for your members, you need a plan in place for trying out your ideas — and scrapping the ideas that simply don’t return results.

Resources to Help You Avoid This Mistake:

The CMX Community Engagement Cycle

11 Ways to Engage Members in Your Online Community

10 Offline and Online Engagement Tips from Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman

Pitfall 4: Not putting enough effort into community platform selection

Picking a community platform is a daunting task. In fact, any software selection process can feel overwhelming, nebulous, and make you realize that you’re not quite sure what your goals are in investing in the software in the first place. That’s why it’s important to give this process the patience and rigor it deserves.

Only 4 in 10 organizations in our study researched platforms rigorously. Not surprising, those who rated their community as being the most successful also said that they expended a high amount of effort in this phase.

Resources to Help You Avoid This Mistake:

Picking a Community Platform? Do Your Legwork

The CMX Guide to Community Platforms

So now how can you be sure you’ve addressed these risks so you can sidestep them and be successful? We’ve got the answers for you, thanks to our partnership with our research sponsor, Salesforce.

Want to Ensure You Know How to Avoid All of These Community Pitfalls?

Join us for a webinar with CMX COO Carrie Melissa Jones, Leader Networks CEO Vanessa DiMauro, and Salesforce’s Cesar Castro on August 25 at 11AM PT, where we’ll share strategies for avoiding all of these mistakes.

Salesforce Webinar CMX

(Left to right) Cesar Castro, Community Cloud Sr. Director of Adoption and Engagement, Salesforce; Carrie Melissa Jones, COO and Founding Partner, CMX; Vanessa Dimauro, Founder and CEO, Leader Networks

In this webinar, we’ll cover these 4 top reasons for community failure in detail. Then we’ll cover how to avoid those mistakes in your own planning, backed by the study, The Keys to Community Readiness and Growth by CMX and Leader Networks.

Armed with the data and practical advice on how to launch a successful online community, this webinar will distill the common pitfalls, identify areas that are critical to your community strategy, and outline operational success factors for ongoing growth.

RSVP now to reserve your spot

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Carrie Melissa Jones

Carrie Melissa Jones | @caremjo

Carrie is the COO and Founding Partner of CMX. She has built community at Chegg and Scribd and has consulted with community companies around the world. She lives in Seattle, WA with her pup, Bruce Wayne.