SAN_Homework When we last talked about Social Action Networks,  we identified the specific characteristics that define a SAN and what how they differ from an online community.  Today we are going to share the steps you should take before you even start planning what you SAN will look like and what it will do.

So grab a note pad, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to work:

  • Think up of a name – This may seem an obvious choice, but take some time to consider the options. Do you want your SAN to have the same name as your main website? Do you want it to stand out on it’s own?
  • Grab a few domain names – You might have the best name for your SAN only to find out that domain name has been taken.
  • Write up a mission statement – Probably one of the most important elements to your SAN. This should be quick, concise, and sum up what your mission and SAN is about in one or  two sentences.
  • Start drafting your SAN guidelines – What about the rules? How will you deal with abusive members? What will you allow and not allow on your community?
  • Research – The first step in any social media endeavor is listening, and this holds true with SANs. Take the time to see what people are already talking about. Where are they talking? What are they sharing? What portals are they using? Are they more active on Facebook than anywhere else?
  • Engage with active communities – The social web is vast and it should come as no surprise that people are already going to be talking about the very subjects you plan to include in your SAN.  That’s fine. Become part and build relationships with these communities. Taking the time to do this will help when it comes to inviting people to join your SAN.
  • Start outlining what your Moderator’s responsibilities will be – if you think you can launch a SAN without some sort of moderation, you’re fooling yourself. It will be imperative to write out the Moderator’s responsibilities and their needs. These can always change, but don’t launch your SAN without doing this vital leg work.
  • What promotional plans do you have in the pipeline? – It will be bad to launch you SAN and then start thinking promotion. Do you already have a newsletter? If not start one now, and update readers on the status of your SAN. You might want to consider having just a splash page announcing your SAN with a projected date. Maybe even offer email newsletter sign up to anyone who wants to be invited to a private beta launch.

Come at your Social Action Network from a member’s perspective.

If you were a potential member of your SAN, what would you want to have on it? What content would you like to see? More importantly what would you need to keep you coming back?

It’s great if you SAN has over 500,000 members but if only one third of them are returning, then that isn’t really successful. You need to provide them the opportunity to express their opinions, and be part of the building process. 

Remember, the ultimate goal is to transform your member’s passions into obtainable action.

If you are not in a hurry to launch, then by all means, take your time. If you are up against a deadline , I would suggest do as much homework as you can before launch. It could make all the difference between a SAN that is successful, and one that fails.

In the next post we’ll talk about what solutions are available you can use to actually build your Social Action Network. Stay tuned.