Building Community Online
On the radio recently, Ellen Gunning spoke about building community online with Katie Moloney (MD of Maximum Media). Katie manages a team of 54 people who create content for four websites. Two of the websites – joe.ie and her.ie – broadly target men and women in the over 20 to under 45 age-bracket while the other two are specialised websites – one dedicated to sport, the other to parenting.
The conversation revolved around why someone would visit joe.ie or her.ie on a regular basis. Also, what kind of information were they looking for? What sort of community did they belong to? Community has changed over the years. Being part of a community no longer means exclusively where you live, or the profession that you belong to (you are part of the legal community, for example).
These communities are mostly found online. They consist of link-minded people with similar interest. However, they might differ greatly in educational background, social class, age and place of birth or residence.
Online media has, literally, opened up the world to people and allowed us to share experiences with people that we might never, otherwise, have met.
Why Build Community Online?
Building community online makes it very visual for its members. They like photos, cartoons, video clips and share a lot. They share “not so” important things – but are quirky or deemed to be of interest to the rest of the community (“Hey – have you seen the video of the dog playing the piano? It’s brilliant!”).
They are all in one place – online – but very difficult to reach. Companies spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to reach them, and how to engage with them. They are difficult to market to – but brilliant endorsers and sharers if you get it right. They also ‘live’ online – so they react quickly to anything that happens. It is the reason why things go ‘viral’ in no time.
As a company or organisation, you need to build community online and interact with its members. How do you that? Should you be on Facebook? If so – what should you be doing there? Maybe Pinterest is your market, or perhaps you should be concentrating on LinkedIn.
It’s not enough to trust to someone who already uses social media, you need strategy. That’s where online courses in Social Media Marketing and Public Relations come into their own. They will teach you how to use each medium, they will help you identify who else is already using and whether or not they are your audience. The one thing that everyone agrees about is that social media is very time consuming. If you are going to invest time (and a cost inevitably comes with that) be sure you know what you are doing.See More