My last article was about the value in writing a mission statement for your community, and a few readers asked me for some examples. I thought rather than just update that post, I would cover how you could go about writing your own community’s mission statement, what it should include, and then present a few examples.
How should you format your Community Mission Statement?
A great mission statement will inspire your membership, and bring focus as to the purpose of your community, and the value of contributing to it.
Community mission statements usually include three main parts: the statement of purpose, a process statement, and the core values of the community. These can be define as follows:
- Statement of purpose: This part will clearly and succinctly explain the purpose of the community, what it is to be used for and why.
- Process statement: Then you need to describe how you see this purpose being achieved, including mentions of regular initiatives, social tools used or the tone community contributions should follow.
- Core values: What are the common values that should permeate through the community and that need to be followed by the membership?
You can sometimes combine the last two sections if you are going for a short and punchy mission statement. Clear statements of how you see the community achieving success work best, such as these very basic & generic examples:
- Genericcommunity.com, as a safe haven for women who have suffered domestic abuse, will always remain impartial and supportive regardless of individual circumstances.
- “Product” customers will find tips and tricks as well as technical support on productcommunity.com, where helping others means points and discounts.
- Members of politicalcommunity.com will be aware that this is a “political bias” site. With this in mind, we aim to become the best source of serious debate about “political bias” policies on the Web.
What should you include in your community’s Mission Statement?
There are a few points to remember when crafting your mission statement, mainly remembering who you are writing it for and how can you come up with a statement which draws everyone to work together with the same purpose, but also:
- Keep it short and obvious. You want it to be easy to remember and repeat to people who sign up to your community.
- If you already have a community, why not ask them what they think the mission statement should include? It’ll make it easier to address their expectations, but have a cut-off point where you make the final version, to avoid decisions by committee and a mission statement that it too general and diluted.
- Don’t close your mind to other opinions. Starting off with too many ideas makes it easier to whittle them down later. Don’t dismiss opinions that go directly against your own either, as they may offer some kind of insight that will be useful later.
- Take your time. If you rush it, you’ll regret it later. Research, write a draft, let your community feedback their thoughts, and make the changes that are necessary.
- Review your mission statement every so often. Your community, despite a clear direction, will evolve over time. Make sure your purpose does to or your community will lose its relevance.
What makes for a bad Community Mission Statement
To avoid a mission statement your membership doesn’t engage with or understand, make sure it is written in clear and reasonably simple language. Get right to the point without padding it with text or pointless explanations.Don’t aim for generic; believe in your mission and state it.
But the biggest sin when crafting a mission statement for your online community is to use jargon. Don’t go for some overblown and pompous statement suggesting the plan is to take over the world. Stay local to your community, use words that are relevant to them and that suggest their needs are going to be met, or you risk confusing or alienating them.
Finally, don’t hide your new mission statement! Display it prominently and link to it from within your registration email.
Some examples to inspire you
The obvious examples for big communities are a good starting point:
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
At Twitter, we believe that the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. Every day we are inspired by stories of people using Twitter to help make the world a better place in unexpected ways.
Skype is for doing things together, whenever you’re apart. Skype’s text, voice and video make it simple to share experiences with the people that matter to you, wherever they are.
YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.
[...]We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them.[...]We want to enable new ways of organizing photos and video.[...]
Myspace, Inc. is a leading social entertainment destination powered by the passions of fans. Aimed at a Gen Y audience, Myspace drives social interaction by providing a highly personalised experience around entertainment and connecting people to the music, celebrities, TV, movies, and games that they love. These entertainment experiences are available through multiple platforms, including online, mobile devices, and offline events.
And here are some examples from smaller communities:
If you know of any other great examples, or just want to show of your own community’s mission statement, post them in the comments and I’ll update the list.
[photo by lowjumpingfrog]