You remember the early days when you waddled thru the social media mumbo jumbo. When you learned what words like avatar, gravatar, tweet, twit, Twitter, pin, post, status update, timeline, micro-blogs meant. Remember how excited you were to get a new follower, like on your Facebook page or comment on your blog?
What changed? As your knowledge deepened, community expanded and influence rose you somehow forgot those little things you once celebrated.
Many who go thru this very natural life cycle of online marketing success often get so caught up in the metrics and their own personal goals that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the people who got you there in the first place.
Community isn’t something that happens once just to help build you up from zero to one hundred or five thousand followers. A real community is there for the long term. They are the people you can count on come thick or thin. They are the people who will build you up, tell you the truth even if it hurts and celebrate your successes because they helped you get there.
Scott Peck, the author of “The Different Drum: Community – Making and Peace” has some good words on this topic. Peck explains how conscious community building is a process of deliberate design based on the knowledge and application of certain rules. He talks of how communities go thru different stages as they form and build.
1. Chaos: When people move beyond the inauthenticity of pseudo-community and feel safe enough to present their real selves. This stage places great demands upon the facilitator for greater leadership and organization, but Peck believes that “organizations are not communities”, and this pressure should be resisted.
2. Emptiness: This stage moves beyond the attempts to fix, heal and convert of the chaos stage, when all people become capable of acknowledging their own woundedness and brokenness, common to us all as human beings. Out of this emptiness comes
3. True community: the process of deep respect and true listening for the needs of the other people in this community. Peck believes this stage can only be described as “glory” and reflects a deep yearning in every human soul for compassionate understanding from one’s fellows.
1. Friendship. People are the heartbeat of social media. Without people there would be no such thing as social media. Life is too short and too scary to spend it all alone or with people who are fake and afraid to let them see their real self.
2. Relationships as a life raft in a sea of technology change. Who cares if Facebook goes away tomorrow and is replaced by the next big social network “thang”? As long as you have a community built on real relationships, then they will endure the technology, social network changes. Your community, friends and online buddies will follow you wherever the technology tides may take you.
3. Push you to be your best. If you spend your days, nights and life only in your own world then you have nothing to compare it to. Healthy competition is good and healthy. Learning what your best colleagues, best competition or neighborhood small business is doing down the street is motivating.
4. Reality check. There is nothing better than having a group of honest, authentic, transparent online or offline colleagues tell you the blatantly honest truth about something you need a reality check for.
5. Guts to take risk. Taking risk is a healthy part of any business. When you know you have a community of friends behind you to give you an honest reality check of your next greatest idea as well as a group of peeps who will have your back and be there to help you stand when you fall can have positive impact on your ability to continue to move your business forward. Sitting inside all by yourself, afraid to take risk is likely going to be safe for the short term, but longer term could be putting your business at more risk as you are not growing or connecting with others who are also growing their business.
6. Get unstuck. You know the days I am referencing. The days you don’t know what to say, what to blog about, what to tweet or what to do next in your business. Those are the days you hop on Twitter, watch some videos on YouTube, read a few blogs from your favorite authors and spent the day being inspired by your community. If you feel stuck, then ask them for help. Chances are you’ll have a long list of folks ready to help motivate you in no time.
7. Learn. With as fast as the social networks are being built, evolving, morphing, and moving there is no way we can be an expert at every one of them overnight. It’s just simply not feasible. Not only can we learn about the social networks from each other but we can also learn about our target markets, supporting technology, best practices or a simple how to blog on anything under the sun!
8. Innovation. When you bring smart people together who are openly communicating, sharing knowledge, supporting one another, smart things happen. Many new ideas, products and businesses are sparked from a simple online conversation or a relationship taken offline that started with a simple tweet.
9. Social sanity. In an influence, metric, tweet and follower crazed world it’s nice to be able to hop on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and know you are not alone. It’s nice to know there are people who can relate to your excitement of a two hour of block of time set aside just for tweeting, or the celebration that you got a new technlogy or widget finally integrated into your blog or website. Particularly for those who’s offline colleagues are made of primarily folks who can’t spell let alone relate to why you would want to spend Friday night on Twitter, it sure is good there are some online friends who do understand!
10. Pay it forward and help one another. Just as you need to lean on your community for many of the things mentioned above and more, your community needs you too. You can pay it forward every single day on the social networks. You can help people learn, grow and be motivated. You can help them get unstuck, bring together a solution, launch a new business or simple learn how to Tweet or setup a Facebook business page. Whatever it is, make sure you focus on paying it forward as much or more than you focus on recieiving. If you focus on helping others achieve their goals and objectives as a priority, you will achieve your objectives by default.
Once in a while it’s good to take a look around and realize all those you may have put on a temporary “ignore” are the ones who got you there to begin with! You may have been too busy focused on the likes, follows, influence scores and conversion funnels that you forgot who is giving them to you daily!
I’d like to challenge you to take this day to remember those who have helped you. Here are few challenge tips for the brave, the bold and the real community minded peeps:
1. Take a look through your Facebook timeline and pay closer attention to who is clicking like. Acknowledge they exist and do the double click to at least 2-3 of their social profiles. Check out their Facebook business page, blog and Tweet stream. Learn how they can help you, what they can teach you. Chances are you can learn a lot more from them that you may have thought possible.
2. Take 15 extra minutes a day for the next week to thank those who retweet you, say hi to someone you haven’t tweeted with in while.
3. Spend at least 15 minutes per day focused on the objectives of someone in your community versus yourself.
I can guarantee if you try a few of these simple tactics, the retun you will see, feel and experience is beyond words or that of anything money can buy!
What you say? You ready to take the challenge? You ready to give back to the community and benefit the many people who could use your help, knowledge, or friendship?
This blog post is part of a new series titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It include a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.