Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. Currently there are dozens of different types of communities, and even many more definitions of what "community" really is. I'd like to post some thoughts on community building, as it is the core of what Refresh has set out to do; build a community and promote it. Read more...
If you are responsible for building a community, I'd like to offer you some advice. You don't have to take it, you can throw it away and ignore it if you like. It comes with no strings attached, and I won't be offended.
But if you are serious about building your community, please pay attention because it makes the difference between having advocates and having people not take you seriously.
If your users engage, engage back.
There's nothing more disconcerting than to engage a community builder into a question, only to be completely ignored. Community builders, there's a very good reason why your email client and why Twitter includes a reply button. USE IT! It's free, it takes only a few seconds and you'll feel alot better. And most importantly, you're building a 1-1 relationship with that person that can later translate into offline interaction, which means sales, advocacy, love and more.
Rule of thumb? It's about the people, stupid.
There's no such thing as conflict of interest in community building.
Like the saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone use "conflict of interest" in the same sentence as community building, I could have retired years ago. If people want to help you build your community, citing "conflict of interest" is an irresponsible way of refusing said help. A great example of not citing conflict of interest was the #hohoto event that took place last Christmas. Each person involved in the planning brought different skills (maybe some brought the same) to the table, and many more brought their ideas and suggestions. But not once did they ever say no or dismiss any idea. The result? A packed house, an amazing crowd, and they raised over $25,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank. All that was done in 13 days.
Rule of thumb? Don't say no. Ask for feedback/opinions/assistance, and your users will do more for you than you ever expected.
If you're a community builder, you're in the public eye.
I don't really need to explain why this is important, but I will anyways because so many community builders forget this very important rule. If you are going to address an issue on a blog post, a forum, Twitter, or any other medium, know that 1) Google will find it, and 2) People will talk about it, retweet it, call you out, expose you and make you sorry you were ever born. People today have finely tuned BS receptors and amazing research skills. They will use both to their advantage. Remember that before you hit the submit button on that blog comment.
Rule of thumb? Watch what you say. The past always comes back to bite you.
We asked this question of our Twitter followers: What are the characteristics of a "good community builder"? The responses we got were very interesting:
Kevin Richard: "non restrictive, disclosure (no false pretenses), facilitating rather than forcing conversation, interactive" and "basically not being a corp. shell. The manager listens and responds to the users instead of just pushing out info."
Darius Bashar: "they must be authentic, and have a lot of LOVE. They must also be anti-ROI minded.", and "It is about relationships and about truly listening to your users!"
Dan Codesta: "A good community builder is one who sees an opportunity to fill a need until time comes to 'hand it up' to more capable hands."
Aidan Nulman pointed us to a blog posting about community organizing by Ryan Holiday. It got us thinking: What can we do to make our world better? How can we help our local and global community thrive and be more sustainable? What can we do to help each other succeed, both personally and professionally?
What do you think? What are the characteristics of a good community builder? Hit me up on Twitter, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.