Personally I think communities form around “identities” or what @gapingvoid calls “social objects” and the more deep the identities – the richer the communities.
Here are Stan’s 10 steps to community management
Communities should be independent of organizational structure. They should be based on the content.
Two – Communities are different from organizations and teams. People are assigned to a team. Communities are better with self–selection for joining and remaining.
Third – Communities are people and not tools. You should not start with tech features. A platform is not a community. Readers of the same blog are not a community but that might be a byproduct.
Fourth – Communities should be voluntary. The passion of members should be what drives a community. You should make the community appealing to get members and not assign them to it.
Fifth – Communities should span boundaries. They should not be for a particular group likes Sales or IT. There is a lot of cross-functional or cross-geography learning that would be missed then. Diverse views help communities.
Sixth – You should minimize redundancy in communities. Consolidation helps to avoid confusion by potential members. It also reduces the possibility of not getting a critical mass. Reducing redundancy also enables more cross-boundary sharing.
Seven – Communities need a critical amass. You need at least 50 and likely 100. Usually ten percent are very active so you can get sufficient level of activity with 100 people.
Eight – Avoid having too narrow of scope for the community. Too much focus can lead to not enough members. Stan advises people to start broad and narrow if necessary. Or start as part of broader community and spin off if needed.
Nine – Communities need to be active. Community leaders need to do work, often in the “spare time” at their regular work. This means that the leader needs a passion for the topics so he or she will spend this extra time. There needs to be energy to get things going.
Ten – Use TARGETs to manage communities. TARGET includes: Types, activities, requirements, goals, expectations, and tools. Each of these issues needs to addressed and explained to prospective members. Tools are necessary, but the least important component, so they are placed last.