In the midst of Community Managers, new tools and “social media experts” is the reality that most social media marketing boils down to conversations among people. People “buy in” with their time, and that’s what ultimately creates community.
A good clergyman friend of mine is always saying, “you can’t make community happen.” Because it’s about relationships, it’s an organic growth that requires investment (in time) from all the participants. You can facilitate community with tools that help you to reach out, connect with others, foster conversations and organize people – but you can’t grow meaningful relationships with just tools.
Any social media effort with a community that doesn’t have invested time from people who are committed will eventually implode or fragment into nothing. With that in mind, keeping community practical becomes an important endeavor. And one of the most practical things you can do within a community is offer people something to do.
Simple examples include quick (interesting) surveys or poling where results are shared. Perhaps there are routine live events, scheduled chats, podcast participation opportunities, and other strategies to enable more user generated content, sharing, response, etc. Does this require work and creativity? Yes. Don’t most meaningful relationships?
Understanding Why People Contribute
Perhaps one of the most common behavioral aspects we can gauge from social media marketing is that people will rally around that which helps them to belong and contribute.
People want to identify with others who share common passions and interests, especially if they are authoritative and accessible. They want to participate and contribute to efforts that are not only personally worthwhile, but validating of their own view points. People also want to tell others what they know – and the more they know, the more they seem to tell. How will you help them?
I know it’s all a bit anecdotal — but I’m of the thought that we as good marketing people need reminding of where our focus should lie. I say make it on people, and the money will follow.