In one of my social networks I was asked "What is Community Building"? That made me realize that I’m maybe using a term with the assumption that others know what I’m talking about. For community managers we just make the assumption that it’s the goal of what we practice. The Wikipedia definition doesn’t have a definition in regard to online communities so let’s define it!
Community building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of community between individuals within a regional area (such as a neighbourhood) or with a common interest. It is sometimes encompassed under the field of community development.
A wide variety of practices can be utilized for community building, ranging from simple events like potlucks and small book clubs, to larger–scale efforts such as mass festivals and building construction projects that involve local participants rather than outside contractors.
This is my definition: Community building is a process of building a following of people with a common interest around a product/brand, personal brand, blog, or site online.
What do you think of that? please share your ideas. Then we need to identify how it’s accomplished.
For my new readers I want to describe the basis behind the community manager position (the person doing the community building). It’s the why.
Many companies are realizing that they can be out interacting with the advocates of their brand. And some are changing their product development lifecycles based on customer feedback. (It’s shortening that process). So it’s a function of marketing & product development. But the question is, from what department should this happen? (IT, marketing, development, etc). It doesn’t really matter as long as someone is doing it. The customers are creating their own groundswell the way it is (initiating this movement by talking about the brands that they like – word of mouth is not to be ignored & needs to be fostered).
So who should do this? Some companies are adding the Community Manager position. I’ve been working in this position for a software company. I work with customers online & am the ‘meta-customer’ internally. I provide feedback & route info to: cust service, tech support, prod development, QA, marketing, exec level, etc.
There is a process around building that community. Some would say it’s building brand, but it’s so much more than that. It’s getting people to participate and interact each with other. The end result is to create a vibrant community around a person, a product or a brand.
If you have a presence on the web (whether a blog, website or customers discussing your brand) then you should be considering community building strategies to grow your community (identifying where your potential audience is, increasing awareness, driving traffic, etc) as well as using the appropriate social media tools.
So we need to define the online version of ‘practices for community building’. Feel free to change this first part too:
Community building is a process of building a following of people with a common interest around a product/brand, personal brand, blog, or site online.
(outline of how this is accomplished online – utilizing social media tools, providing a platform, contesting, online chats, webinars, providing resources, etc)
I look forward to your help!