Easy Lesson 1: Know why you are doing it and how it will enhance the user experience.
Companies and brands use a wide variety of social media and networking tools such as twitter, facebook, and blogs; not all companies should do this. A Seth Godin witticism elaborates: sundae toppings are great, so long as they go on top of ice cream. If you’re taking a product or service like detergent, adding all kinds of ‘treats’ like twitter and corporate blogs is like putting gummy bears on a meatball – at best they add nothing, at worst they clash. To most people, detergent is detergent and talking about stains online does not build brand nor enhance the experience of using Tide (Tide Facebook Fan page has 429 members – the affect on P&G’s last year sales of $76.4 billion is indeterminate.)
Easy Lesson 2: You need to have support and resources.
If you are going to turn detergent into a community, make sure you have support and resources. A quick and dirty perusal of the Tide forum boards shows a relative ghost town. For Example: a Tide Team Member responds 40 days later to a complaint about the lack of scent in a product and offers a coupon – not sure if this is exactly the way you build support for any community, large or small.
Easy Lesson 3: Make participation so simple that anyone can do it.
Web 2.0 is one of the few places where the pareto 80/20 rule does not hold – in its place is the 1/9/90 rule, where one percent of users contribute 99% of all user-generated-content (UGC), nine percent contribute the other 1%, and 90% lurk in the background surfing and reading and thinking about what the information means to them. If it takes more than one minute or requires too much personal data, you can forget about reasonable participation rates.