I had dinner with Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable. Our conversation about Community Management reminded me of a recent conversation I had, with a would be prospect, about their plan. The plan? Launch 6 communities by years-end and 20 more social communities by the end of 2010. My question is, how many resources do you have, and who are going to be the community managers? The response- “one community manager and we will build the communities ourselves!” I turned down the offer to be their consultant. Even after I told them they would fail due to lack of resources, they still felt like their plan was the right plan of attack! To me, it didn’t matter how much strategy or best practices I give them, their apparent lack of knowledge was going to be their downfall.
After speaking with Rachel, I came to the conclusion that before any company engages socially they need to do 3 things:
- 1. Read, read, read! Read the blog rolls on this blog and the blog roll on The Community Roundtable. Pick up a copy of Groundswell and Trust Agents. So many companies know they need to engage socially, yet they run before they crawl. It is great to think big, but think about it smart. After reading and arming yourself with knowledge from people who have had success engaging socially, you will find the need for the right resources!
- 2. Identify Resources My last post talked about finding tech savvy extroverts to lead the cause. Chances are you will have to go out from your walls to find the right community manager. There are resources to find and hire the right person. And please, please…don’t make a community manager be the manager of anymore than 3 communities. The fewer the better they will perform. Trust me! Also, make sure your community manager stays hungry for knowledge and join communities like the Community Roundtable and RSS thought leaders to keep being challenged.
- 3. Be unique! The best social initiatives have thrived because they are unique, dominate a niche and add value to their members and participants. Please don’t copy what another company has done. Find a way to be creative. Have a brainstorming session over drinks…yes I am suggesting to have fun creating your companies plan! Many times getting out of the office will kick start the creativity. I don’t know about you, but a pub and good eats is a far more creative environment then florescent lights!
If you are thinking about engaging socially (don’t think you are late, this is the beginning of a 10 year upswing), I hope this post helps you kick off right. Remember, it is great to think big, but be sure to listen. Don’t think about the company’s ultimate goals and achieving them yesterday. Think big, start small, create a unique (fun), valuable and scalable plan! Then execute! As always, I am available to work with you to create your strategy, just don’t expect me to agree if you decide to build 26 communities in 12 months with 1 community manager!
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