Strategy and planning

Online community strategy

Thriving online communities don’t happen by accident. It would be nice if they did, but the “build it and they will come” approach invariably ends up with poor engagement and results.

Our philosophy is that if you want to build collaborative learning communities, we need to first understand what participation and empowerment means to you and your community. Uncovering the motivations for being part of a group that shares, learns, collaborates and acts towards a common goal is essential for the success of your brand.

Reasons for joining a community

  • Relationships and friendship
  • A common passion
  • Entertainment and relaxation
  • A sense of community and mutual support
  • A forum for information that’s found nowhere else
  • A place to be heard
  • Sounding board for innovation and creative ideas

Being accepted into any community requires the ability to listen, and that’s exactly what we do. We listen to you, we listen to the needs of your community and we will learn what your exact business objectives are before designing a community strategy that works for you.

Why is a community strategy important?

Like it or not, brands are becoming increasingly defined by their online communities. Red Bull have built a thriving community around Extreme Sports, while Nike cleverly identified that their online community should be about running, not shoes. 

Our strategic approach ensures we understand the agenda of your community and how this translates into a functional website that promotes:

  • Engagement
  • More visits to your website
  • Greater returning visitors
  • Customer and brand loyalty
  • Sharing of content
  • User generated content (equals more links, ranking improvements and traffic)

In short, the community strategy ensures we make the best decisions right from the very start.

Why don’t we just use Facebook or Twitter?

There are a number of powerful benefits to creating your own online community:

  • Differentiation from competitors.
  • You own the data, not Facebook.
  • Referrals and sales. 92% of customers say they trust word of mouth above all other advertising.
  • Organic reach. The search engines value user generated content and include content in their search results.
  • Trust. Communities have greater loyalty towards your brand.
  • Feedback and ideas. For example Dell use their online community to help drive R&D research.


What’s included in the community strategy?

We combine social theory, user centric design, and open source technology to deliver:

  • Community roadmap
  • Stakeholder research and interviews
  • Community management training
  • Resourcing recommendations
  • Engagement audit
  • Engagement life-cycle development
  • User personas

Who’s involved?

As with the Discovery phase, you’re team will remain consistent and the combination of community experts, designers and developers allows us to consider every single important aspect of your project.

Community Health Reporting

Reporting should never just be about proving there’s been an increase in page visits or registrations (although these are important metrics). Understanding the behaviour of your audience is a natural evolution in interpreting the overall health of your online community. Positive behaviour can change attitudes and the conduct of your users, similarly negative behaviour can, in extreme cases, cause people to leave.  

We’ll help you measure how your community’s participation and behaviour is changing in line with your aims. It provides valuable insights and can be used to make real improvements by responding to the ever-changing needs of your community.

Why Bright Lemon?

Without wanting to sound conceited, we are very good at what we do. We’ve successfully created websites and online communities for the British Council, MTV, the Tate, Cambridge University and Fujitsu.

What makes us unique is our approach. We combine strategic, design and development expertise to create beautiful, functional websites that have been designed to suit the needs of you and your online community.


“Our community site was built in Drupal, an open source CMS, and BrightLemon led the development which contained multilingual capacity as well as an in depth registration and customer relationship management system as a foundation for our community driven website for English learners across mainland China and Hong Kong. All of this has contributed to over 50,000 members in our first year since launch.”

Andrew Newton
Project Manager, British Council Hong Kong