Building Online Communities

Posted on January 13, 2010 by Nora DePalmaOne Comment

Enjoyed speaking to Atlanta Green Communicators last night about tips for building and sustaining online communities.  As Peter Shankman of HARO says, it’s pretty much everything your mother taught you.   Be nice, be a good listener, recognize others.   Think of how you would act at a networking event, and let that be your guide.  Here’s our tips:

Step 1:  Shut up and listen. (Admittedly hard for your humble correspondent.)   What are people talking and tweeting about related to your area of interest?

Step 2: If you build it, will they come? What is out there already?  It may be better for you and your brand to become active in an existing community, rather than building your own.

Step 3: What is your platform?  Where will you build your group?

  • Linked In: Not our preference to start a group. Good place to “break in” with comments and questions. No IT help needed.
  • Facebook: Surprisingly good! Having a fun name for your group helps. Little to no IT help needed.
  • Twitter: Yes, you can build a community with 140 characters or less.  Selectively follow and purposefully post. No IT help needed.
  • Blog:  Just as you’re reading now.  Most time consuming, but the best ROI we’ve seen. Templates exist, but we recommend investing in custom design and features. No IT help needed for updating.
  • Custom: Pricey. Harder to demonstrate ROI at that spending level, and more expensive to build.   IT help needed.

Step 4: What to post? Videos, images/slide shows, copy. In that order.   Funny is good.  Weekly is also good; vary timing to see best results (Facebook is big Mon-Wed; Twitter is big Thurs – Fri). Don’t forget weekends.

Step 5: Be a person, not a brand. It’s a networking party, not a board room.  Share of yourself. Ask questions. Start conversations. Thank contributors.  Loved this advice from www.communityspark.com: remember birthdays!

Step 6: Be patient. Easier said than done with bosses and clients.  Set expectations up front and set them low. Contests and corporate social responsibility initiatives can help build communities, but rapid growth can create volatility with a lot of churn. Our personal bias is quality, not quantity.

Atlanta Green Communicators was founded by our Green Earth PR Network colleague, Nancy Rogers.  Join through Linked In, or let us know if you want to attend the next bimonthly meeting.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • BlinkList
  • blogmarks
  • Blogosphere
  • Diigo
  • eKudos
  • Fark
  • Faves
  • FriendFeed
  • Google Buzz
  • Identi.ca
  • LinkaGoGo
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • MySpace
  • Netvibes
  • NewsVine
  • Orkut
  • Ping.fm
  • Plurk
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • Simpy
  • Slashdot
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr

One Comment

  • Lisa Lilienthal

    January 13, 2010 — 9:21 am

    Great notes, Nora, thanks! Can you share one anecdote about how it has worked for you or a client? Looking for a good pass-along story.

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