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.
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.
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:
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.
Next up: What Is Community?
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 6WXG8ABP2
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