Matt Zellmer has an excellent post titled “Integrating Community Into Corporate Websites“, where he summarizes a comparison study that he ran regarding six high tech sites (Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and SAP).
I agree that one size does not fit all, but whatever the corporate community/social media user experience/information architecture is, it should be somewhat cohesive & at a minimum, there should be some cross-pollination in place by making the all inclusive community bits findable & easy to navigate between each other & the main company site.
With regards to community sites outside of the main site (or company domain), another example of when this is OK is for open source communities. But there again, there should be some cross-pollination (at least links from the main site to the external open source site(s)).
Two additional principles I would suggest are:
- A single set of guidelines/policy (including community moderation) for all community tools that are officially sanctioned/branded by the company. Again, open source communities that reside outside of the main site are an exception.
- A single search engine. When people are seeking community contributions centered around a particular topic/product, they should be able to do this via a single search query.
And what about globalization, localization & internationalization? 🙂 That’s one area that companies seem to have forgotten about in their over-all social media/community strategies.