There is a great racing saying “Sometimes you gotta go slow to go fast.” This is especially true with community building. The race is on to get customers’ attention and to bring them into the fold of two-way communication and collaboration. The big brands are lined up with shiny new social media engines to get to the finish line first. But is this really what successful social media is all about? What is the definition of the winners circle? What defines the prize? In reality, the race should be a thoughtful journey to enable customer intimacy.
When I think of community building and races – the Great Alaskan race the Iditarod comes to mind. While speed is essential and the fastest racer of course wins the prize, it is a true cooperative effort. Race teams – led by sled dogs – cross dangerous and complicated terrain across the wilds of Alaska. Life and death are in the hands of the skill of the musher and the collaborative strength of the sled dogs. There are many stops along the way and the race takes time to complete. It is a test of endurance and skill as well as speed. Community building also takes time and is an endurance test. Finding a suitable software tool and getting members to join is the easy part, but often times, if members aren’t properly engaged, they don’t last long as members and never return or contribute. No one wins if followers or member count is the definition of success. Instead, achievement should and could be measured in member engagement.
How many implementable new product ideas did your customers suggest?
How well did your product development team or customer care group respond to suggestions, issues and ideas?
Did you serve your clients better virtually than you ever did before online?
Did you drive more attendees to an in-person event and therefore offer them greater learning and opportunities to connect with your company through an online presence?
These are the types of questions that define the race, not the speed by which you go but the path you take. With this said, I challenge enterprise communities and marketers everywhere to re-think their value systems to focus on what is important, to give to their members and not try to only take. I believe in the three-fold rule – give three things to your community members before even endeavoring to take one thing. Make “everyday heroes” out of your community members as they hold the success stories, best practice, and experiential wisdom. Create a platform for them to share ideas and connect with each other and you. Put your users – your clients, customers and prospects, at the center of your operations and the spoils of success can be shared by everyone!Thank you for reading Building Online Communities for Business by Leader Networks. We are a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building.
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