We’ve been saying it for years – you need to go where people hang out if you want to be successful in leveraging social media and communities as part of your business. And thankfully, more and more people are giving that piece of advice to their clients or employers who may be trying to figure out what to do in social media.
Increasingly there has been new “bad” advice seeping in that bit of wisdom as well. It comes in two forms:
1) Going to where they are means going to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
STOP – it is not because those sites have the most number of people that this is where conversations actually take place. Maybe they are, and maybe they are not. I am very active on all those sites, but if you want to reach me as part of my photography tribe or as part of my marketing enthusiast tribe, that is not where you will find me.
Going to where they are has nothing to do with the number of accounts – it has everything to do with the places where your tribes hang out.
2) You should never build your own community
WOW, hold on a minute — true, most vendor-hosted communities should have never been set up. And you could make the argument that most successful communities are tribe-led. But that does not mean that you need to become a extremist about that. Many customer support communities (not all) can thrive on vendor-hosted communities – look at Dell, Adobe, and Microsoft just to name a few. Communities to amplify word of mouth can be vendor hosted – look at the Fiskateers by Fiskars, or the financial analyst communities at Thomson Reuters.
The key is to find your tribes, see where they hang out, and see if there might be an opportunity for you to host them. It’s not easy, but to tell your clients or employers that they need to engage on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn just because that is where people hang out is wrong. And to tell them that they should not try to set up their own environment is probably wrong too!