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For Your Social Communities to Work, Fish Where the Fish Are

There is a great opportunity for businesses to use social media to enable conversations and to create communities that extend their capabilities and engage their constituents in richer ways that results in higher retention, lower risk, increased ROI, and faster operational capacity.

90:10 Group

Businesses entering the social media space must first figure out where their audience is (isn’t it the beginning of any type of strategy?). Working with communities of any kind, whether it’s a forum, a fan page on Facebook, or a bunch of people on Twitter discussing a particular subject every week, takes care and time. It involves developing true relationships with the audience by helping community members with information they need or solving their problems. A lot more goes into developing the type of respect, authority, and relationships in communities that generate successful strategies and attained goals for companies.

Chris Pirillo, last November at LeWeb, gave us his ‘original’ thoughts about the essence of ‘community’.  Community …

  • …lives inside us. Where I go, community goes. We create it based on our preferences, like dislikes and the people we link up with.
  • …is becoming increasingly distributed, as we distribute our ideas and thoughts across social networks.
  • …requires tools that can’t be built (so don’t try), ie if its us, we can’t scale ourselves.
  • …is a commodity, but people aren’t. It’s easy to set up a website or blog, but the people and voices behind it are what makes it unique, special.
  • …cannot be controlled, but can be “guided”.
  • …is no longer defined by physical boundaries. You probably have more in common with a geek living on another continent than your next door neighbor.
  • …grows its own leaders. the best leaders come organically out of a community, and is not an appointed one. It’s crucial that communities grow it’s own leaders for credibility and respect reasons.
  • …is the antithesis of ego. Community is myself and everyone else, not just me or my Twitter stream.
  • … is everywhere, inside you. It’s what you share, your passions — and it’s this that will spell success.

If there is one company who recognizes the vital importance of communities is Coca-Cola, who has developed an Online Social Media Principles and has put its fans (consumers) at the heart of its (online) strategy. This presentation by Michael Donnelly, Group Director of Worldwide Interactive Marketing for Coca-Cola, is a great example of how companies should embrace social media and build social communities.