Sunday, January 4, 2009

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in a Social Media Community

As many of us go through the common New Year’s ritual of reflection on the past year and goal-setting for the next, I have been contemplating some of the standout lessons I’ve learned in 2008 by participating in online communities and social networks. There are too many to list in a blog post. What stood out for you?

Credits: The reason you will not see links sourcing particular blogs is that these notes stem from recollections over online conversations, tweets, discussions at industry events (and related blog posts and tweets), online discussions and debates, Q&A forums, videos, etc. Many of the ideas developed and grew in several locations. Therefore, my source citation is everyone with whom I have conversed, collaborated, and corresponded over the last year--in other words, my social network. You.

There is no such thing as a social media “expert”. The social media mix is dynamic and differs for every business and person. The fact that I cannot pinpoint any single source to cite for this post makes this point. Isn’t this the spirit of community?

When it comes to community, interaction is key. This means human interaction. Not bots and auto DMs. And not incessant promotion.

Social networks are all about being social and networking (go figure). The quickest way to become unfollowed and unfriended is to join a network solely to advertise. People will engage in your business within context of the community discussion and will be interested in what you have to say if you say something that interests them.

Yes, social media ROI can be measured. But consider what you mean by “return” and by “investment.” Don’t look for an immediate influx of leads the day you launch an online community or join Twitter. And don’t expect to run a social media program like you would a traditional marketing program that can begin and end within a month or quarter.

Inbound marketing is powerful. It does not have to be expensive. One size does not fit all.

Content is still king. One of my b-school professors used to caution students about the difference between a contribution and a comment. This holds true for content as well. There is a lot of content out there. Make sure yours is awesome.

It is not a game of numbers. The best bloggers blog because they are passionate about what they write, even when no comments are posted to their blog. People who get the most out of Twitter do so because they stay engaged with conversations, and focus on who they are following, without concern for how many followers or friends they have.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. So thank you to all the members of my many communities for a great year of collaboration and sharing. Happy 2009!


Nicky Jameson said...

Wonderfully succinct! Thank you for this neat summary. Retweeted.

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling to put into words what you have just said! Well done! May I quote you?