Jeremiah Owyang posts about a report he has written for Forrester. The executive summary is all we really need:
To host a successful community, think of it as you would product development: Start by focusing on objectives, chart a road map, assemble the right team, and plan to be flexible. Then build your success by launching the community with the backing of your most enthusiastic customers and staying engaged as the community grows. Above all, remember that control is in the hands of the members, so put their needs first, build trust, and become an active part of the community.
Good stuff. Jeremiah’s focus is in the use companies can make of communities in order to sell stuff. But the principles can easily be applied to public sector organisations that provide services to the wider community. Get those with an active interest in the same (online) space and make them feel involved and useful.