Building Community (or, the New Face of Marketing)
"The main goal behind social media tools is to build “community."
In previous articles, Linda illustrated how to use various social
networking tools such as Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, LinkedIn and
Posterous. While many other tools exist that can be used by the
designer and/or programmer, at some point the user might consider why
these tools are necessary in the first place. Building community is one
answer, and the answer is deeply integrated with marketing for many
Building Community (or, the New Face ofMarketing)
In previous articles, Linda illustrated how to use various social networking tools such as Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, LinkedIn and Posterous. While many other tools exist that can be used by the designer and/or programmer, at some point the user might consider why these tools are necessary in the first place. Building community is one answer, and the answer is deeply integrated with marketing for many people.
What is Community?
I hope you have had time to delve deeper into some social media tools that were discussed previously. I want to touch base on many other tools as well as help keep you up-to-date on changes within the tools that you've become familiar with over time. But, I also want to focus on why these tools are important.
The main goal behind social media tools is to build "community." Many people have mulled that word, "community," over time with varying results. Most of those results have been fairly convoluted and complicated. As a result, some communities lose steam because of the lack of focus on the goal – which is building community. Instead, these groups become more focused on individual goals and leadership issues that can tear a community apart.
The definition of community varies from place to place and between cultures. For instance, in Wales, the word "cymuned" represents the lowest form of government structure and it also represents a group that protects Welsh community issues. In Great Britain, "Community" is a British trade union. WorldNet Search also applies these definitions:
· a group of people living in a particular local area; "the team is drawn from all parts of the community"
· common ownership; "they shared a community of possessions"
· a group of nations having common interests; "they hoped to join the NATO community"
· agreement as to goals; "the preachers and the bootleggers found they had a community of interests"
· residential district: a district where people live; occupied primarily by private residences
· (ecology) a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other
As a designer or programmer who Twitters, which definition above fits you? Which definition would you use to describe yourself and your friends at Facebook if you are into marketing? If you can find a direct definition or a mutation of any one of the above definitions to fit your online activities and your connections, then write it down. Don't forget it, as this definition could well define how you market your goods and services or your client's goods and services.
If you cannot define what you are doing with social media tools, then it might be time to stop, take stock, and plan ahead to what you want to accomplish with these tools.
Building Community Using the JournalisticApproach
Journalists learn how to write, and like designers, they follow a set of guidelines that defines good journalistic reporting. But, where designers use the elements and principals of design, the journalist uses the "five Ws". These guidelines, hopefully, help the journalist stay true to a story, and they help the journalist report the story briefly and with clarity. The Five Ws (which actually are five "Ws" and an "H") are as follows:
· Who? Who is involved in this story? Who is the main character? Who influences actions surrounding the story?
· What? What happened? In journalism, the writer avoids stating what might happen unless there are specific points, such as a jury's verdict set to arrive tomorrow, etc. Otherwise, the journalist becomes an oracle.
· When? When did events happen? A time line is helpful in this situation.
· Where? Where did the events take place?
· Why? This point is sticky, as a conjecture could turn a journalist into an opinion writer. The "Why" in this instance refers to "why" the child disappeared, "why" the car hit the train, etc. In many cases, the "why" is unknown without further investigation.
· How? In contrast, "how" a situation happened may seem more apparent than "why." In some instances, reporting a "how" becomes safer when it becomes a "how to" rather than "we don't know how it happened."
The above guidelines can be used to determine how you want to apply community to your life in the following way:
· Who? First, answer the question as it applies to you. Are you a designer? A programmer? A marketing professional? Who do you represent? Who do you want to associate with? Often, you cannot answer this question without answering the following question first:
· What? Do you want to share common goals, or do you want to share skill sets? Do you want to share friendship (which may be sticky in business interactions), or do you want to build a network?
· When? How quickly do you want to build community? Do you already have a 'community' in place, or do you need to build from scratch? Start a time line and take it backwards if necessary. This time line may help to identify several issues, such as Who was involved in building existing community, What happened and How things fell into place.
· Where? Where are you going to start? What format or venue will you use to build community?
· Why? This is the loaded question – what are your goals in establishing a community for yourself or for your clients? You may learn that you do not want to build a community, and would – instead – rather build a following (as in Twitter) or develop friendships (as in Friendfeed or Facebook). Popularity is just one facet of community, after all.
· How? This is the nuts-and-bolts question that – like the design principal of unity – pulls all the other questions together to achieve a workable and holistic design.
Linda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.