If you build it, they will NOT come

I’m getting asked more frequently with each week, “Which white label social network should I use?”, many have seen this list, and have read my posts tagged social networking. I don’t make recommendations on the fly, and I’m not going to give away free advise to non-friends. So the answer depends on “It depends on your community strategy”.

“I want to build a community”
Many an entrepreneur are seeking to create vertical communities, monetize on ad sense, or some other hook. Also, folks from large corporations are hoping to launch these communities, let customers self-support, and attempt to centralize the community in a decentralized world. For 95%, it’s not going to work.

New tools require new strategies
Building the website with all it’s features, profiles, and rating buttons is the easiest thing of all, but maybe the least important. What’s key? It’s having a plan to kick start your community. Secondly, understanding to consider joining the community before building one. Lastly, marketing (and your community) may not even be on your own website or domain, distributive, amorphous, and ubiquitous.

[Just because you build your community website does not mean they will come. The savvy web strategist has a community strategy and distributed social media strategy]

New strategies require new roles
There are a few roles that have started to appear, keep note, as I see them at almost every company, learn about the Community Manager. Remember before there were three major influence groups (Analyst, Press, Media) many large companies have one person on each, or at smaller companies one person covering all. Add yet another influence group, the Social group, or what many of us call Social Media.

How to kick start a community?
I know how to kick start a community, I’ve done it a few times already, and each time it’s been different in the approach, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. I posed this question to the readers of the this blog, be sure to read their ideas on how to get it going.

  • How do you think communities will be in future, let’s say 5 years from now ? At the beginning we had groups, forums, now I saw that things moved to social networking websites, and social bookmarking sites like digg, but in future ?

  • They’ll be distributed in widgets

    The community will go wherever the users go, we won’t be bounded by a single system or platform.

    And it’ll be mobile.

  • A question rather than a comment.

    How can we best offer up our customers’ secure (financial) information so that they (and only they) can see it through the tool of their choice?

    At the moment, they can come to our website, or (if they want) receive emails from us… but what’s the next place for us to offer?

    Twitter private messages? Facebook PMs? Is there some good source of information where we can get an overview of how easy Private Messages are through these systems.

    Obviously, it’ll be up to customers to decide whether they want to take advantage of this, but, say, putting together a Twitter interface feels WAY easier than building our own SMS solution…

    Mark

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  • Just a note. The key to a successful social network site, starts with your own little community of friends. They will come and they will invite other friends and so on.

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  • Amen Brother.

    We get a lot of people talking about communities, and hoping for advertising, but they are seldom willing to put the time or money into building something that actually works.

    The key is effort. Rather than spending your millions on technology, they have to spend it on people, and that’s never as sure a bet.

    There’s also a disconnect of timelines. Communities of interest take time to grow, because they have to build up a reputation. When it’s clear the community is a vehicle for money, growth is severely restricted. Why should one of your community members put free time into make money for the entrepreneur?

    I was expecting a Kevin Costner pic for this post because of the title, but am glad you resisted the urge.

  • Oh Jim, you made me laugh!

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  • Hey Jeremiah, I am in the process of launching my new social network site – RecruitingWire.com, what do you think is the best way to garner members to the site?

    Thanks.

    http://www.recruitingwire.com

  • A question rather than a comment.

    How can we best offer up our customers' secure (financial) information so that they (and only they) can see it through the tool of their choice?

    At the moment, they can come to our website, or (if they want) receive emails from us… but what's the next place for us to offer?

    Twitter private messages? Facebook PMs? Is there some good source of information where we can get an overview of how easy Private Messages are through these systems.

    Obviously, it'll be up to customers to decide whether they want to take advantage of this, but, say, putting together a Twitter interface feels WAY easier than building our own SMS solution…

    Mark