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A community doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective

BNSFYou’re probably making this “customer community” thing too hard at your company.

You can spend $500,000 to launch a custom community platform and integrate it into your corporate experience and marketing plan.

Or you can grab some free software, add your logo, and launch it. If people show up and enjoy it, then you have a success, a business case, and a reason to invest in it and improve it.

Guess what? It’ll be a better community, too. All the research in the world isn’t actually going to tell you what your fans want. Your fans will … after you get them talking.

So start easy, call it an R&D project, and skip the over-thinking.

Great example: The Friends of BNSF Railroad community. In just a few months they’ve exceeded 10,000 members. This gives them the a ton of happy fans and more feedback than 400 focus groups.

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