originally posted in Concept Hub
What is a community?
Wikipedia list types of communities as being:
- Geographic communities: range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities of location.
- Communities of culture: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic group, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.
- Community organizations: range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.
Communities are nested; one community can contain another—for example a geographic community may contain a number of ethnic communities.
So when we say we want to build an online community what does that mean and how can that be achieved?
I am going through that process with a couple of clients right now. The process that we are taking is to first look at the existing communities that are related to what we are trying to build. If, as described in the description above, one community can contain a number of other communities, perhaps the best way to start building a community is to become part of the various other communities.
The next step is to understand the dynamics of the community. What is the value that people receiving from the community? Who are the influencers? What are the needs? More importantly, what needs can we help them with?
In the offline world 10+ years ago we would gather this information by looking toward the media, who and what was newsworthy?
But as Amani Channel has pointed out, media is changing.
The experience confirmed what I already suspected, the profession of journalism is in big trouble. Al Tompkins with the Poynter Institue characterized it as “sick.” The digital space has been extremely disruptive to the business model of corporate media, and until a profitable advertising model is developed the layoffs and buyouts that have marked 2008 will continue.
Recently Toby Bloomberg provided a “pulse check” related to blogger relations exploring the question of how important are our relationships with bloggers?
Let’s start with the question: Do you consider bloggers the “new journalists?”
Total responses: 87
55% – Yes
45% – No
So we can now define the existing community, not by the paid media, but by those who have chosen to actively participate in the community. We can insert ourselves into the communities that are relevant to what we are trying to build and we can survey their needs.
The next step is to lay out a strategic plan. Recently I laid out a plan that started with a community that was not the largest or most connected individuals, but the ones that had the loudest and most buzzworthy concerns. From there we will create a critical mass of members with varied interests that will become part of the other areas we will be covering.
The other project I am working on we are facing the challenge of getting various stakeholders to play along. In the evolving interconnected web, it is important that organizations stop thinking of their website as the one stop for all the information and start thinking more along the lines of networking, which means showing up at various other sites and communities.
Perhaps the most effective way to build a valuable community is to let the community be involved in designing the infrastructure. Randy Moss has an interesting post on Communal Collaboration where he asked;
If we had a choice, would we fund 18 months of Britney Spears coverage, or would we fund better more interesting? are the masses uncontent with the current content are going elsewhere. If given the opportunity to have more of a say, putting your money where your mouth is, would we see people campaigning for stories they care about? What would a crowd funded evening news look like both locally nd Nationally?
I wrote about this over a year ago when I covered the coverage of the various unconferences in Atlanta and asked What Happens When the Audience becomes Part of the Show? I suggested that:
If a collaborative conference can gather this much energy, passion, and momentum, we need to wonder what could be accomplished if other traditional models opened up. For example including employees in the big decision making of the direction of the company or include the consumers in product development or include peers (once known as competitors) in creating superior industry standards. Perhaps we would all enjoy more energy, enthusiasm, and passion in our lives.
If we go back up to the list of communities listed in Wikipedia, we will notice that what makes up a community are common connections where everyone has a voice and reason to participate.
originally posted on Concept Hub
Here are my notes from the CoreSpeed Webinar. Some of the notes are taken from a book titled Mobilizing Minds.
10 Steps to Establishing a Vibrant Community
Structure Follows Strategy
- People need to understand the reality they face in order to embrace change.
- To gain or even maintain a competitive advantage, organizations need to develop extensive coordination across functional, product, and geographic boundaries.
- To succeed, we need to develop ever more diverse skills, in a far greater range of specialties, over an ever larger, more diverse, a population of professionals and managers.
- Unlike “informal networks” that simply evolve, formal networks are designed to bring natural professional communities together.
- Formal networks provide structures that enable everyone in the firm to “pull” knowledge and talent to them.
- Create a map of how each group communicates with other groups. How problems are solved.
- Don’t have time to collaborate? What about the time spent looking for answers or information or reworking problems in one dept that was either solved in another or will cause problems for another.
Be a part of the audience
- You are part of the audience! A community in the age of social media isn’t about putting the message out there, it’s about conversations. Understanding your audience isn’t done through a sit-down strategy session or focus group, it’s about listening to your audience tell you who they are and what they care about.
- It is a matter of becoming as flexible and adaptive as the markets themselves.
Take baby steps and be flexible
- Make flexibility part of the roadmap. Your community may grow in ways never imagined and being able to take advantage of opportunities presented by unforeseen community interaction will make this successful
- Use the energy of individuals who are self-directing their own work, thereby overcoming problems of gaining collaboration among large numbers of employees who don’t know each other.
- Managers must be able to collaborate with people who do not report to them and to draw on support capabilities they do not personally control.
Leverage your relationships for mutual benefit
- More digital, more globally integrated economy.
- and consider members of the community as your partners
- most companies rarely operate effectively as one company. The result is widely differing organizational approaches across the company, with these differences being driven not so much by external complexities or by innate differences among. businesses as by such vagaries as the personalities of different managers and the history of how the organization evolved.
- A relationship is needed to establish mutual accountability and an understanding of interdependence.
You’ve got … personality
- Similar to branding – you can create an initial personality tailored to your intended audience/community, but over time your role becomes guiding community personality.
- People with mutual self-interest have long created their personal social network of relationships, of course, both within and outside of their firms.
- We all internalize the culture of which we are apart. If that we not so, they would not exist.
- Groups are naturally coercive: they need shared norms and shared ways of thinking and seeing to function effectively.
Be a real boy or girl
- Since real partnerships arise from the need to collaborate, the ability of partners to have personal relationships with one another is critical.
- One of the advantages of formal networks is that a person can be a member of more than one at a time. This enables a person to integrate knowledge and gain access to talent across multiple communities.
- photos, videos, personal stories – insight into a person’s beliefs, values, and perceptions allows us insight into their image of reality and vision of the future.
If you pay attention to them, they will pay attention to you
- Formal Networks serve to take much of the work out of “networking.” The limits of networks participation are largely a function of time and interest, members would leave when the network was no longer of that value.
- Engagement involves respect. Respect ideas, respect opinions, respect dissenting points of view, and show appreciation!
- If you pay attention to them, they will pay attention to you – the attention economy describes how the increasing wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
Ask, Listen, and Respond
- It is much easier to get people who are involved and in the room for the discussion to collaborate in support of the decision with their hearts and minds than if they were asked to support the decision without having been involved in it.
- By participating and monitoring the dialogue between members, leaders can better identify topics of interest – which can serve as drivers for future revenue generation activities, as well as future leaders and evangelist.
- A knowledge marketplace is an enterprise-wide organizational capability that enables those workers with a natural self-interest in seeking particular types of knowledge to find author-workers with a self-interest in building a personal reputation. – Mobilize mind power by getting the right knowledge to the right minds.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
- Success comes from the community being formed around a focused topic closely related to each individual’s goals. The network must be provided with leaders and training.
- Structure follows strategy
- Kick off training to know roles and responsibilities, and again reinforce how the technology enables the organization to strategically reach their goals.
- Ongoing hands-on training and train the trainer model
- Network owners can facilitate interactions among members, stimulate knowledge creation, maintain the community’s knowledge domain, build and track a directory of network membership, and help members do their job more effectively & efficiently.
Most Importantly it is the Collective Knowledge and Relationships Within the Community that Needs to Be Nourished
- The opportunities of the 21st century are internal to companies and in particular to how individual companies are organized. If you are effective in your internal organization you can become far better at capturing profitable opportunities external to your company.
- Really important decisions often involve establishing priorities – and the sequencing of actions often are dependent on just-in-time information of customers and competition.
- The capability of a company as a whole to create new knowledge, disseminate it throughout the organization and embody it in products, services, and systems.
- The fact that knowledge has become THE resource rather than A resource is what makes a community unique.
- Once individuals step away from the front line, they quickly lose the very specific knowledge and information that the front line workers possess – knowledge that allows the front line to deal well with marketplaces customers, local regulators, and the other complexities of the business world. Their knowledge is rapidly antiquated.
SEO Leveraging Community for SEO Success
- User and Partner Generated Content – keywords used in a conversation – dynamic searches
- The ultimate goal for SEO and SEM is to be easily found and top of mind of the relevant audience.
- RSS, Linking Out, Social Bookmarking – providing information through the peer to peer network – also raises SEO authority level
- Appropriate Tagging
- Social Media Press Release – providing information that can be segmented and dispersed through the community in the medium the community wants to use.
Introducing Social Media to the Enterprise
- Managing Organizational Loss of Control
- The plagues of the modern company are hard to manage workforce structures, thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, email overload and “un-doable jobs.”
- Internal Talent marketplaces put greater responsibility for personal development o the individual relative to the corporation.
- Understanding where the company has familiarity and where it does not can be extraordinarily useful because in today’s turbulent environment many companies retreated when confronted with opportunities involving unfamiliar risks.
- Good content Management Strategy
- Figure out where social media can provide some internal relief from information overload.
- Not everyone is a content creator. You can’t expect people to start to create content unless you give them something to work with. Also realize that even in a successful community, the vast majority of the community will be a mostly passive audience for your core community members.
- Engagement involves respect! Respect ideas, respect opinions, respect dissenting points of view and show appreciation.
- It means that the ability to create high profits per employee and to push back the complexity frontier lies within the companies themselves, their organizational structures, their talents, their business models and their intangibles – rather than in the industries in which they compete.
- Staging requirements across different departments
- Get the departments involved in this process. Listen to them as a community and create inroads for them to interact and come up with requirements and standards.
- A formal network is an organizing capability that uses the natural self-interest of individuals with a common interest to form a structured community that enables them to collaborate with one another easily.
- Executive Sponsorship and Vision
- Create a space of openness and trust and get that back
- It means that the ability to create high profits per employee and to push back the complexity frontier lies within the companies themselves, their organizational structures, their talents, their business models, and their intangibles rather than in the industries in which they compete.
- Organizational knowledge creation as a means of breaking away from the past and moving them into new and untried territories of opportunity.
- The only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.
- Knowledge Creation=Continuous Innovation=Competitive Advantage