Building Your Community


In our previous post, On Beyond the Major Social Media Sites, we wrapped up our look at the major social networking sites and recommend some other sites and social techniques for you to use.

In this post, we begin a series on building your community by giving an overview on what an online community really is.



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Building Your Community

“Community happens when people feel
they’re among like-minded others and when
they feel their contributions matter.”

Social media expert Chris Brogan

OK, you’ve slogged through all the advice we’ve blogged in our “Be A Person” series, and you’ve decided you’d like to create a standalone online community for your enterprise. Well, we’ve got bad news for you: You can’t.

Sorry. We hope we haven’t led you on by titling this post as we have. Community is not some­thing you can create because a community belongs to its members and, as Chris Brogan’s quote says, community happens. You can start a community, but the members will create the con­nections that build and sustain it. You can nurture a community, but the members will decide how long it lives and where it goes.

It’s like a party.Three Guys Bored at a Party

You can invite the guests.

You can provide the venue, buy the food and drink, hire the band, and send out the invitations.

But you can’t make them have fun. The way that those who show up interact will determine the party’s success, not you.

Sure there are things you can do to increase your odds of a successful party: fly everyone to Paris; hire Cirque du Soleil to perform; and give everybody a Dolce&Gabbana bag full of expensive gifts. But you can’t ensure that everyone will have fun. And you can’t ensure that the party will never end.

It’s the same with community. People come of their own volition, share only if they’re inclined to, and will leave if the conversation gets boring.

One of our favorite thinkers about community, Amber Naslund, Director of Community for Radian6, lays it all out succinctly:[1]

You cannot create a community. It creates itself.

Strong community leaders, in my view, are there as the experience architects.

It’s our job to translate, to interpret, to build bridges and give them chairs to sit in. But ultimately, the community builds and sustains itself, with us nurturing it along the way.

If you’re ready to move beyond your need to control your community, the next step is to decide what it is you want to build, um, architect.


Building Your Community is the 155th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’ve been doing this since 2011 and we’re just past page 393. At this rate it’ll still be a while before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

What Others Are Saying

Infinite Pipeline offers practical advice for using social media to extend relationship selling online. It’s a great way to get crazy-busy prospects to pay attention.”
—Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies

“Sales is all about relationships and trust. Infinite Pipeline is the ‘how to’ guide for maximizing social networks to find and build relationships, and generate trust in our digital age.”
—Sam Richter, best-selling author, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling (2012 Sales book of the year)

Infinite Pipeline will be the authority on building lasting relationships through online social that result in bottom line business.”
—Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, Speaker/Author and CEO of Integrated Alliances


[1] Quoted in the comments of Chris Brogan’s seminal 2009 blog post, Audience or Communitybit.ly/cs2ogx

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About NextPhase Selling

Social Media Performance Group is a premier enterprise social media consulting company that offers a unique approach to integrating social media into the enterprise — forget about the tools, it's all about the strategy! Rather than focusing on the tactics (do this or that on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube), first we work with you and your senior leadership to comprehend your corporate strategy. Once we understand your strategic objectives and goals, we show you how a comprehensive social media strategy can integrate with and support your corporate strategy. We take an enterprise-wide view based on our unique Enterprise Social Media Framework, which maps social media to all appropriate touchpoints in your enterprise. We go beyond the obvious quick hits — sales and marketing — and help you achieve social-media-driven results in areas such as product development, customer service, and employee engagement and retention. As a result, social media is not just bolted on; it is integrated with, and provides support for, your company's existing strategy and operations, yielding unprecedented results.
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