Whether we are part of a social group, family, study group or neighborhood, we are part of a community, says Ted Shelton (@tedshelton) of Open-First. Community characteristics include: (1) membership; (2) influence; (3) integration and fulfillment of needs; and, (4) shared feelings and perspectives. Members of a community come together to create something better than any member could create individually.
If we want to develop a community online, the following questions can help us find our members and join the conversation:
- Who are the members of our community?
- Where are our community members online? What do they search for? What are they interested in?
- What topics relate to this community in a meaningful way?
To participate in the community, we co-create site content with the community – especially with leaders in our subject area. In many cases, existing bloggers are a key voices. Interestingly, popular bloggers with tons of followers will typically jump on board while smaller bloggers are likely to resist collaboration. This resistance is futile, as exclusivity destroys community. Community is better served by sharing, collaborating, and expanding one another’s thoughts.
Research is the first step in the process, as in many strategic communication endeavors. The PHAME model (Problem, Hypothesis, Action, Metric, Experiment). The result of the process should provide value to the community.
Community engagement happens in your building, in local venues, in stores and on street corners in addition to social media. Social media can raise awareness about the events and products tied to a brand and a community. The interests of the community should drive the products and the communication. Ultimately, sitting behind a computer does not a community make.
See the presentation on slideshare.