Building communities from scratch

Leading on from the Gary V. post on doing great stuff and not being a simple “me too” social mediarati (and something I meant to blog a lot earlier), let’s face it, it’s not that it’s easy to do. A lot of organizations and companies are finding themselves in the position of building communities from scratch, or possibly harder, having to try and wrangle existing communities of users (some of them passionate, some of them aware but ambivalent, some of them pissed off) and engaging them. Tricky.

I thought Ryan Carson’s article on building these from scratch was actually great since I keep seeing the same missteps at a lot of places.

His three big takeaways (paraphrased a la me) :

  1. It’s All Public
    Carson talks about personal and professional divisions here, but I kind of took this to mean that it’s all about the sharing. Using social media for a publishing and prounouncement culture rather than one based on engagement (and perhaps even collaboration) just doesn’t work. Stick to press releases or open up and be transparent. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and money and frustrating people (probably outside and inside the org).
  2. There’s No Shortcut
    Senior management hates hearing this, but Building a community takes time, particularly if you’ve done nothing to build one before. It’s an investment, not a campaign you’re running (and if you are running campaigns, you need someone paying attention to leveraging that larger community and turning those campaigns into an overarching community that it itself recognizes rather than organization-recognized artificial divisions
  3. Throwing Money at the Problem Doesn’t Solve It
    Spending money on big media campaigns is wasted cash. You want to invest money into campaigns and community hire a community manager, meetups and beer and a designer and developer to be creative.

Anyhow, great article well worth the read and has a nice video of Gary V. at SXSW doing his thang.