Communities Need a Cause

Back in 2008, I joined Clearspring as the Developer Community Manager.   At that point, no one knew what a community manager was.  With the rise of social media, “community manager” quickly became the vogue job.   It’s the job that everyone’s hiring.

But somewhere the notion of building/managing/facilitating an actual community of people got lost in the translation of what a community manager does.   The role became more of a social media-based customer service rep.

Customer service is CRUCIAL but it’s not community building.  It’s deepening a relationship between you & your customer.

So… what is a community and how do we build one?

I thought for a few posts I might try to tackle/unpack what communities are all about.  For this post, I wanted to talk about what ties a community together.

A community is a group of people who come together around a common cause.    It’s a group of people who want to accomplish something.

Without this underlying idea, cause, or goal, there’s nothing that ties the group of people together.  There may be some initial excitement by a group but in the end it’ll all fall apart.

Here are some examples…

I remember, in the heyday of the television show LOST, there were fan sites galore.  People would come together an over analyze every aspect of every single episode.   It was all for a reason though.  We were all super invested in story and we wanted to know what was going to happen next.

We live in Washington, DC and we love DC.  We love getting the most of all the unique and interesting things that DC has to offer.  It happens that we’re not alone. My friends Tom & Tiffany Bridge both love DC as well so they created a blog called We Love DC.   But it’s so much more than a blog.  It’s a community of people who are trying to get the most out of their DC experience.

Over the summer, I met two early twenty something guys that worked in politics & government consulting.  They had to wear ties everyday but that put a real stretch on their budget, especially if they wanted to wear nicer ties.   So, the two of them started trading ties.   This idea quickly grew.   Before they knew it, all of their friends were over at their house on Sunday afternoons, watching football and trading ties.

Regardless of the topic or subject area, when you have a topic or need that’s commonly held among multiple people, you can form a  community.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series.  In the mean time, what kind of communities are you a part of or that you’ve seen pop up?

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