Social Media can help foster communities, but it isn’t a community in and of itself. Social media simply allows conversation around certain content. For example – if multiple people post comments about the new Verizon – Blackberry Storm, to say what they do and do like about the phone – this is conversation centered around a common theme or object. It does not mean, however, that a community is created. In a recent post by Rachel Happe, “Social Media is not Community”, Rachel lays down the facts that these ideas are often confused. She outlines communities – what makes them and what their characteristics are. In doing this, we can separate the ideas and realize that communities can be built, they allow communication, they are continuous and they are based around content. We must then see social media as a tool that can be used for your brand or company to help the building of a community.
NOW…Realizing that you may not already have a community where you thought you did, that it was simply discussion around the content of your brand/company etc, the next step is to figure out how you go about building this network or community. Focus on building community first, and then on how to encourage discussion through social media for your community. In a Now Is Gone post The Seven Principles of Community Building there were a few I thought were the most crucial.
1. Provide value, create content
You need to give your community something value-able to talk about. The content is obviously step one, and as the community continues to grow, and as you work to build it up you should be focused on more than numbers. You should be focused on keeping the value and content evolving. This should be the first focus of any company or brand looking to build a network — you must always be giving valuable content to your users.
2. Participating in your community.
Yes – you create content and put it out there, but if you don’t comment and give feedback on that content with your community – it wont work as well.
3. Don’t talk AT your community.
It is outdated to talk to your audience. Consumers/Users don’t appreciate that kind of marketing or information anymore. They wanted to talk with you, they don’t want to be talked at. This is all about control. You can’t control your community, you need to provide content and then observe and join discussion around it.
Think about it…
What communities would you consider yourself a part of? Are you a frequent commenter, do you join discussion often? Try to draw the line in your own action – are you just part of a discussion – or would you consider yourself a member of certain communities online?