As Jeff noted on the Project 100 blog:
It’s a simple concept. 100 authors. 400 words each. 1 Collaborative Book on “Project 100: Marketing in the Social Media Era”. I will publish the book using Blurb.com and all proceeds will go to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I am not doing this for the money. I am doing it because I think its cool, I am interested in what marketing leaders are thinking and I believe in Susan G. Komen.
I agree with all of those thoughts and the tough part for me was coming up with just 400 words. I’m sending my submission off to Jeff tonight and thought I would share my thoughts in this blog post too.
Four Community Ideals
Marketing in the social media era represents a dramatic change from marketing in the ‘old-style’ push era. One of the more visible ways that a company can participate in social media today is to build a community around their products and services. The key functions of a community are to share up-to-date information with customers and prospects, to have interactive conversations with customers, and for customers to interact with and provide support to other customers.
Here are my four simple ideals for communities:
Be transparent – It is critical to be totally transparent with your community efforts. This means that all communication needs to be both open and honest in order to build the inherent trust that is necessary for people to begin sharing with you.
- Be personal – Communities must make the communications personal. What this means is that the company and social media managers generally need to lead the way and share first by posting personal profiles and contact information.
- Be compelling – The community experience must be compelling enough for people to want to come back. So, it is important to focus on both the big and little things to ensure that people have a pleasant and valuable experience. The usability of the site, content and discussions must be interesting enough for people to visit more than once – and to have them recommend the experience to their network. Maintaining frequent communications with your members is also critical.
- Be omnipresent –The community must be wherever your users want it to be. While you may have community elements on your website, you also need to provide ways for users to interact and get the latest community news and updates. This goes way beyond having RSS feeds for the key content on your site. For example, your community needs ways to duplicate the community experience in the leading social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. By making it easier for community to participate, you will make the community stickier in the long run.
Once you master the ideals, the community work is only starting. Communities must be actively promoted, managed and supported in order to be successful. There is no such thing as “build it and they will come” in the social media world. Building and sustaining a community will require a great deal of heavy lifting and dedication, but the end results will be worth it.