Something I discuss a lot with clients is whether online communities are more suited to some people than others; are some people more likely to join them and take part actively. One issue I’ve discussed a number of times is whether a C-suite audience is more or less likely than more junior employees to want to take part in a B2B community. There are theoretical arguments on both sides but it’s more useful to look for and examine examples of senior-level communities.
When I talk to people they often cite LinkedIn as a good example, but I would think of this as much more of a social network than a community. It’s more about ‘me’ than it is about ‘us’. I know of a couple of other examples of closed online research communities for business travel and credit card firms. But I’m still looking for great examples of online communities that show how they work and allow us to compare what makes them work with what makes communities for other audiences a success.
One example that I do know of is the Chairman’s Network, a Europe-wide network and community of C-level members in the high technology sectors. The community is both a networking, advice and information resource and a place for these people to share ideas with each other. The networks appears to have grown out of work identifying the (lack of?) networking and advice resources for Board-level people in this industry and as such an online community filled a real gap. They currently have just over 1,000 members and from what I can establish the community is quite active.
Of course, you could argue that building a community in the TMT sector is probably easier than in other sectors. However, this isn’t our experience at FreshNetworks for more junior community members, so I’m not convinced that sector is the main reason this community works. It is probably more that the community is meeting a specific need for the members (the lack of a place to meet, share and collaborate on ideas in their industry). For the target audience letting them do this at a time that fits into their busy schedule and without having to travel to meetings should be perfect. And it seems to work.
Do you know any other examples of c-level online communities?