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So, you wanna build a community?

September 16, 2008

That was the first track that I went to today, on day one of the Web 2.0 Expo. Not the smoothest of starts (We have no record of you as a paid attendee), but things got better. They talked about the trials of building communities, and then we broke up into groups and pretended to build communities.

The Slideshow that I watched was here:

And then, they talked about a “Community Manager”. This is the person who is both creative, business savvy, good at planning, good at content, and/or managing people who are a number of these things.

As I listened, it occurred to me that this is what “Account Planners” might be good at. There’s been a lot of talk on the internal network at my agency about Planners and what they do. I think this could be added to the list.

There’s a lot in the previous presentation to think about. But I think the big takeaways are this:

The company emble...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

1. Join a community. There’s a community of people out there talking about your brand. Or your category. Find them, find out what they want, infiltrate them, and give them what they want. That’s the somewhat easy way.

2. Start a community. This is the hard track. It’s not impossible, especially if we expand the definition of community to include people who followed BMW’s wackiness and McDonald’s alternate reality. But it’s hard. It takes time, and patience.

Again, both doable. Just call your local Community Manager.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2008 9:43 am

    Agree fully that starting a community is the harder path, mainly because it’s often not so much “starting” a community as it is convincing a community to migrate (with the obvious exception of promotional communities like the two you referenced.) I’m also not convinced that it’s a more effective path.

    However, the upside is greater control, and that can often be more appealing to the client. Which means that community managers have to work harder to increase the comfort level of the client with doing community in the first place.

    I do worry, though, that because it’s so much harder, fewer of those attempts will succeed, discouraging further efforts.

  2. September 17, 2008 9:52 am

    You’re right about control. It’s the selling feature I used to present a “start from scratch” idea that uses BMW as inspiration.

    When they asked about the time and $ I said:

    “But, with this idea you’ll be in more control!”

    And I’ll always think of you as Kat.

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