Get your digital assets in place before you build an online community
As I pointed out in an earlier post, building an online community is not easy. Since then I have galopped past the group who was #4, outran it by several hundred new members and also past the 1000 member hurdle. Why this is important? Now the group and its internal activities will also add momentum to the growth. In my experience, it is usually the first 1000 members who are the most difficult to get. I still have no intention to lean back and just watch, but at least now, I am not doind this all alone. I have a thousand little helpers.
When you create an online community, there are many ways to look at it. You could say that I already have 1000 members in my LinkedIn Omniture Group so have a community. And many people would agree. I don’t. I now have a channel to reach a bunch of people, but they are not a community and I only have a single channel to reach out. There is a lot more to it.
A single channel is a very slim lifeline. It’s a lot better than having none, but, not enough. And this is there your digital asset portfolio comes into play. LinkedIn allows you to send weekly emails. And those emails get through the spamfilters – the dream of every email marketer. But what if I wanted to reach out more often or more quickly? This brings in the Twitter variable into the equasion. Twitter is the instant way to reach out, so your community will need to be found on Twitter as well.
But the problem with Twitter is that it is so ephemeral. LinkedIn is so uptight. A community needs to be a lot more relaxed, a lot more friendly, a lot more than just another professional talkshop. This is where Facebook comes into play. So get a Facebook page. Now that you have three channels, your ability to reach out is a lot more secure.
But hey, you are not reaching out to the same people via those channels! Ok, there will be some overlap, but not too much! And this is a good thing. Your task as community manager is to make the best use of all these channels to reach out and engage each audience.
Here comes the $10,000 question: What is the problem with having FB, LI and Twitter to reach out?
Third party tools make life really easy and convenient. They make you dependent, and lazy. And what the third party giveth, third party taketh away, any minute, without warning, or prior notice or consultation. You need to have an additional independent channel. Whether you want to build an online community as a members only webforum on your own domain, or run a blog, or create a whitelabel online community that is open to the public, it is up to you. But you need a channel that you have 100% control over.
So far you asset portfolio looks like this: LinkedIn group, Twitter account, Facebook page, you own domain. What you are missing out on is the high engagement elements. Youtube and Flickr. Even if you think you will never ever need a video channel or an image stream, register it. You will see the need soon emerging when you can really put those resources to a very good use.
So, before you build an online community, get your digital ducks in a row, align your channels, and start building a community via those channels. You do not need to put the same amount of effort into all of them, but you need to get started on one or two.
If you would like to know more about a digital asset management, get in touch.