There are a lot of folks out there who understand how social media can help businesses and organizations thrive. There’s also a lot people out there acting as if they do, and don’t have the real experience to back it up.

As someone who manages an online community that I also launched two years ago, I am in the trenches daily. If you are a regular reader here, you know that I share my ups and downs and hard-earned advice. It is no walk in the park by any means.

My book, “18 Rules of Community Engagement” essentially details all that I learned while in the trenches and is a play book for anyone new to community management.I share details about what worked for me and even some of what didn’t.(You can read reviews of the book, here.)

My blog is a continuation of those rich details and advice. There are many bloggers who do the same. I read them faithfully and learn from them. I value their input, insight and the work they do and have done in this space. There are some though who simply repeat information from other bloggers and I am slowly but surely weeding them out of my RSS feed.

One issue I have is this unfounded idea that growing your own community through various social media platforms somehow automatically provides the ability and know how to run, grow and manage an online community as a full-time job.

It does not. I read at least five press releases each day about new company X advising on community building or Big Brand Y building a slew of online communities and what I hardly ever see in these release is information about who will manage them and take on responsibility for their growth. It’s almost like it’s an afterthought, and it should be the first thought.

This is serious work. Why do you think most online communities fail? It’s because there is no real ownership and the “if you build it they will come” mentality. It’s because many of the big-wigs think their products are so unbelievably exciting and interesting that consumers will bang down the doors to  interact with their brand, in their space and on their terms.

This is not true. It may be true for some exciting brands but it won’t last if there is no ‘resident nuturer’ charged with making it a success.

As you are seeking people to help you with this kind of work, look for experience. Sure,  big names are nice, but a big name may not always be able to deliver what you need.

Am I that person? If you are all about engagement tactics, I will go out on a limb and tell you that I am, because engagement is my thing. It is what I do and love. I have also created social media guidelines for my company, something that I rarely talk about in my blog and I’ve worked with a huge restaurant chain to do the same. Again, things I don’t readily talk about. I want people to contact me because of my work and not necessarily the people I’ve done it for.

That might be backwards and a little naive and I may change that at some point, who knows…but it’s important to understand that there are people out there doing the work you need who just arent’ selling it on every corner.

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