Community Building: pleasure, pain and lessons learned
- Everyone has a story to tell. It’s true. Even if you are the brand and craft your story impeccably, your community have their own stories too. Listen to them, ask about them and understand them. It will help build up trust and loyalty.
- Don’t try and do everything at once. New social networks launch every month. You can’t respond and focus your energies everywhere. Work out where your community are and focus on one or two networks to start. Read all the advice you can, follow similar accounts and learn from them and most importantly engage every single day. Twitter helped to launch BookMachine. From there we created a popular Facebook account and Linkedin Group. With this as a foundation we were able to experiment with our own niche sites such as BookMachine Connect and more recently the Water Cooler.
- Work with others. There will always be other communities appealing to the same audience as you. It’s better to work together than compete. Your community, and particularly your superfans are likely to belong to both. You could even run an event or a campaign together and help each other out.
- Fail fast. A familiar phrase, which is true. If you try something and it isn’t working then stop it quickly. We can normally tell within 24 hours whether an event or a campaign is going to work as there is a flood of interest. Yes, you can re-iterate or re-launch; but if you have an ordinarily keen community and they don’t respond to a campaign quickly, it’s normally because it just hasn’t been positioned properly or just isn’t right.
- Get everyone using the software. Everyone running the community needs to know how this works. If you send emails on Friday’s for example and the one person who knows how to operate the mailing list is off sick, you need to make sure someone else can login and keep the routine going.