Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 9, 2009 9:07 PM

6 Ways To Build A Strong Community

"What am I doing wrong?" is often the question many people who are just starting out in online social networks and Social Media (Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc...) ask. It's a fair question, but then again, it's not a fair question because there are no real rules for success.

That being said, there are some good guidelines.

Here are 6 things you can do right now to improve your chances of building a strong community (that involves little more than a simple mind-set shift):

  1. Be consistent - you have to gauge your community and make sure that you are consistently publishing something for them of value. The old saying, "out of sight, out of mind" becomes even more powerful in a world where everyone is publishing their thoughts in text, images, audio and video instantly to the Web.
  2. Be contextual - it's not just about publishing anything and everything online. While "content is king," we're getting closer and closer to the moment in time when the new king becomes context. Knowing what to publish is even more important than knowing when to publish.
  3. Figure out a pulse - this is a little more complex than being consistent. Knowing what time to publish, how self-promotional you can be, and tying in the frequency with the context all culminates into your pulse. It's about knowing your community so well, that you're pulsing out your content in a way that continues to build (and not annoy) those who are following you (and commenting).
  4. Set the stage - it's a delicate balance between not repeating yourself in everything you publish and also being able to acknowledge that some of your community may be very new to this space. Always remember to set the stage. Help your audience understand where you're coming from (and even some of the words that may sound foreign to them), and why it's important to their lives. Many of the more advanced concepts you discuss could well be over their heads. Focus on making yourself an ambassador between your industry and how these new media channels can help them connect.
  5. Define the starting point - many people simply don't know where to begin once they find you. Most online social network profiles or Blogs are just long laundry lists of the many spaces that people can find, follow and connect to you. Choose one as your primary touch point. Stick to it, and make it the main gateway to everything "you." Help people know the best place to get started with diving into your content and community. For me, it's this Blog. In publishing all of this content, it's always important for me (and my team at Twist Image) to direct people here. Remember, "all roads lead to Rome" (your Rome).
  6. The long haul - there are a lot of people who say, "ok, I started a Blog about a month ago, what am I doing wrong? Why are there no comments? What can I do to build my audience faster?" Always remember, that this is not an advertising campaign where you can buy attention. You have to earn it. Building community and trust takes time, effort and then more time (for more on this, please read the book, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith). It's not easy. So, even though you may be doing everything "right," building community does takes time. You will be earning it one person at a time, and it's important to stay the course (you can read more about this right here: In Praise Of Slow).

Any other thoughts or additions to this list?

By Mitch Joel