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It’s time.

Give it up.

Your heart was in the right place, but you didn’t do anything to support your effort.You thought that building the community was enough. You never hired anyone to manage it. You mistakenly believed that your brand was so amazing and beloved, that people would flock to your community to have all of these grand conversations.

It didn’t happen, and you still don’t know why, despite the fact that it was barely promoted, if at all. You didn’t engage.

You never posted interesting content.

The content you did post was never updated. Okay, you updated it twice. Sorry about that.

You deleted comments that made your company look bad, instead of seizing the opportunities to connect.

Just quit. You’re giving community a bad name. Besides, you’re too swamped anyway. But you knew that going in.

I started off with the intention of giving you five reasons to shut down your community, but ended up with more.

You get  the point. Make a change or shut it down. I’m over it. And so is everyone else.

Stop faking it.

Now please, have a great day.

 

Have you ever written community guidelines, or worked with someone to get them started? I’ve done both, and there is one word that often comes up: “irrelevance.”

Community managers, particularly those connected to a consumer brand do not want irrelevant conversations in their community space. If it’s not about the company, the product or the service, they want no parts of it.

You may not see a problem with that perspective, but I believe that you should.

If you’re really looking to grow and sustain a community, and you really want people to connect, you have to leave some room for them to do that.  Is it really that bad if people go off-topic for a while?

If they’re doing it in your community, that means they feel some level of comfort there, which works in your favor.

It can’t always be about you. That may seem counter intuitive, but I am not speaking from theory, but practice.

People don’t connect on one topic alone. And the fact that other topics come into play from time-to-time proves that the wheels of true connections are in motion and good things are happening.

So, create your guidelines but don’t be so rigid that you miss opportunities for continued growth.

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Guidelines are important, but interpretation is key

The results of a new study are pretty telling in regards to the  influence that brands engaging customers through social media platforms are actually having on customers. Women in particular.

Information gleaned from the study, “Women & Brands Online: ‘The Digital Disconnect’ indicates that 75% of 1,000 women queried are uninfluenced by social networking channels when it comes to making purchases.

And this snippet is even more telling:

While exceptionally engaged, they are overwhelmingly uninfluenced, and often “turned off,” by brands in this space.

Wow. So you could be highly engaging with your nice offers, coupons, info on upcoming sales and information about the product and still have little to no influence on what is purchased. So what’s a brand to do?

Here’s a quote from Matt Wise, President of Q Interactive:

“There lives a growing impetus for marketers – especially those working with Fortune 500 CPG brands who enjoy a majority female customer base, to build a better connection with women in the dynamic social media landscape. “We know women are social creatures and highly active in mediums like Facebook, where they now outnumber men.”

Here are some additional results of the study:

  • 75 percent of women are “more active” in social networking than last year
  • More than half (54 percent) visit social networking sites at least once per day
  • Yet 75 percent share that social networking sites “not really” or “not at all” influence what they buy

They are being engaged, however and to me that is a good thing because a connection is being made based on a conscious decision to associate with the brand in that particular space.  The preferred results could come later, and I wonder what kinds of ideas will emerge to build that better connection Mr. Wise suggests.

The complete study findings are being presented today at Ad:Tech Chicago.  I wish I was there. If you come across any video or presentations related to this study, please share.

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If you’re looking for an easy way to get your community members talking, write a quick blog complaining about an issue in your life and they will quickly commiserate.

It’s human nature, and people simply cannot resist the urge to chime in and tell their own stories.  Throw out a topic and let them run with it. Keep in mind though, that it  has to be something they can relate to, so don’t go on and on about something that matters only to you and expect people to care enough to jump on board.

Were you stuck in traffic this morning? If so, you weren’t the only one. Complain about that, and stories of individual traffic woes will follow. Trust me. l do it all the time in my Editor’s Blog and it works.  I even devote an entire chapter to the benefits that complaining can provide in my new book, which by the way is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.

I recall complaining about  gas prices last summer and I was in good company. Remember those insane prices?  Who didn’t want  to complain about that?

Try it. Everyone can stand a little free commiseration.

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Are you feeding your Twitter stream into Friendfeed? Do you ever LOG IN to Friendfeed to see what people are saying about those tweets?

Well, in case you didn’t know, there are people on Friendfeed commenting on your tweets and if you aren’t talking back to them you are missing a great opportunity to build your community.

With twitter becoming so mainstream people are flocking to Friendfeed in droves. So the days of leaving your FriendFeed to its own devices as a location to cull your many RSS feeds, are over. Well, they should be over, starting today.

Pay attention to your FriendFeed and join the conversations. I have been commenting and “liking” tweets, photos, links, Brightkite status updates, YouTube videos, Picasa photo albums, you name it! Someone could be commenting about your blogpost on Friendfeed and you may not even know it.

So go back and see exactly what you’ve got streaming into your Friendfeed account, and start taking action. Just like you check for @responses on Twitter, or use services like Tweetgrid, Tweetdeck, Tweetbeep and others to follow the conversation, you need to check the conversation on Friendfeed regarding those tweets as well.

If you don’t you’ll continue to miss out, because as I always say…communicating with your community is key.

You can find me as @communitygirl on both platforms.

Hope to see you there.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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