Communities rely on social interaction & engagement
Launching a successful web-based community is hard. And marketers make it even harder by treating online communities as completely separate entities from their website. This silo-based approach usually fails. Instead companies need create more social experiences on their core websites.
What creates a feeling of community isn't the ability to upload a profile picture and say 150 words about yourself. A community is created through participation and engagement. The act of identifying your favorites, making recommendations, rating stores, commenting on services & products. Starting and participating in dialogues. Voting in contests and choosing winners. These are social interactions that your users will adopt. They feel natural.
Are these ideas new? No, they're not. They've been around as long as the web has, but sometimes we trend too far from the basics when presented with a paradigm shift such as the rise in social networks.
Don't try to compete with facebook by adding profiles and blogs for your customers. Instead focus on allowing your audience to have natural, social interactions that make sense. Focus on engaging users with interactive features that spur dialogue and increase participation.