Understanding and building an online community

Building an online community

Build an online community

 

Building a community is not easy. Everyone has their own personality and it’s ruddy annoying. The emotional trauma you potentially open yourself to can be hurtful, demoralising and painstaking (not literally!).

But hang in there, kid. It’s worth it in the end.

After all you have opened yourself up to the ‘Twitter Tax’. Two-way communication is brilliant, but you have to listen and take ALL feedback on board – yes, that means not deleting negative ones, but turn that hindrance into a moment of sheer joy!

Do it. And do it well. And you will reap the benefits. Below are some useful to tips to get you on your way. If you’re anything like me, you love learning – so learn from mistakes, celebrate the successes, and influence those who can influence you and your company.

1.      Look before you leap

Research. Research. Research. And I will even say it again, research! Find the pockets of people who are excited about your products and services. Build a database. Know who these people are and ensure you build the messages for them to share. This immediate feedback is brilliant and ensure those who run your company know what it is. Best of all this stuff is free. No paid surveys, no awkward focus groups, but unprompted feedback to use to build your services.

2.      Get to know your users

Use Twitter. See what people are posting about you and your company. Become relevant and see what your competitors are saying. Use this to follow people and start a conversation and engage. This builds relevance from the ground up. Getting building that community, it’s out there somewhere.

3.      Have a personality

The most important. Be a person. Be personable. And response like a human. Use active, not passive, language. Drop the corporate messaging, and make it that everybody understands. Look at your favourite brands, and build your own voice. You will enjoy it more, as will your community.

4.      Leverage any and all connections at your disposal

Bring a friend. Bring several. Communities rarely start-up as one-man bands. Use those you can engage with and build organically from there. Email lists are often overlooked as a central means to build a community. Go to conferences and build partnerships and join in the conversations. It will come naturally.

5.      Build social into your product

If you want people to share “stuff”, make it really easy for them. Ask them to follow you on Twitter and Like You on Facebook as part of the on-boarding process. Suggest opportunities to social share and you will be amazed how many people will take the step and share.

6.      Think in terms of advocates, not just numbers

Followers? Shollowers! The number game is not important. Think about building a community of quality followers and build a fan base that is engaging with and sharing your content. Use these advocates to spread the word.

7.      Expect it to take time

Real community doesn’t happen overnight. It will be awkward to begin with where conversations will be a little forced, but people do not initiate conversations on their own. It will pass. Trust me. Keep building one-by-one. The returns on your efforts will increase when you build that real community.

8.      Connect and help your community members

Be a matchmaker, too. It’s the fun stuff. It’s good to engage with your users personally, but that’s tricky with limited resource. It’s more important to connect them with each other.

9.      Take chances and experiment

Small communities can be a blessing. It gives the scope to try out new thing without fear of failure. Risk while the risk is low and you could be on to a winner. Especially with online, it’s important to be ahead of the curve and try new things. Go on, I dare you!

10.   Track everything

For any business or any individual, ROI is vital and imperative in the progression of social. Track the numbers and make sure it is of benefit to your strategy and goals. Data does tell stories, so make sure you’re listening. A vibrant community will help attract new users, keep user engaged and provide valuable feedback.

 

Remember a retweet or a share is a victory. Keep fighting those battles.

What do you think? @StevenWoodgate

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Unlock your greatest asset: the ability to think

Thinking is good. In fact, thinking is ruddy good. People don’t do enough of it.

According to the Daily Mail (clearly taken with a pinch of salt), British people spend NINE HOURS a day staring at screens and spend more time online than any other nation in the world.

That works out to be 30 years of our lives. 30!

These screens include computers, mobiles, televisions and tablets. Not only this, but increasingly more people are watching television with a second screen.

Technology has transformed the way we do things. It makes processes quicker, it is always convenient, and it doesn’t answer back when asked a question – unless you have that pesky git, Siri.

Jobs, including mine, heavily depend on the use of screens, second screens and mobiles and it appears the rate of creativity is increasing, and innovation has never been so thriving.

After having a day’s workshop with the brilliant business coach Nicholas Bate, he simply said ‘think more’.

It’s crazy, right? We ‘think’ all day solving problems, replying to emails, having meetings, deciding what lunch to eat, etc.

With so many technologies available to us, all of which we can consume in a different way, we don’t have to think as much.

Bate claimed that walking regularly to think will help with problem solving, productivity and building a better mood to really excel.

Following his advice, I stopped catching the bus and walked to work instead.

It takes roughly 35 minutes and that’s a whole lot of thinking. I made the conscious decision not to get my phone out, not listen to music, but to simply think.

You know what? He’s right.

By thinking without distraction – par the ducks quacking along the river – I have managed to solve problems quicker, thought of ways to deal with difficult colleagues and customers, and came up with some really cool ideas.

At lunchtime, I head to the gym and treat myself to a listen of music, but stay well clear of screens.

Not only it’s been good for your heart and lungs, but it’s remarkably good for your brain, too.

So I urge you, and challenge you, to spend 15 minutes a day to ‘do nothing’. Get out of the office, walk to the shops, take a stroll around the block and think.

Leave all technology behind and when you come back, you will be better, refreshed, thoughtful and have put some of those problems into perspective.

Working in PR and community management, where there’s so much pressure for response times, replying to emails and calling clients, spending a few minutes to ‘do nothing’ will help more than you could ever imagine.

Not only I feel I’ve improved the standard of work, I come back refreshed and more assertive, with not only work but with building better employee relationships too.

Working long and hard causes the body to seek refuge in reptilian or fight/flight behaviour as its suspects the worst.

All well and good but our greatest asset is then lost: our human ability to think and make thoughtful, clear choices. Take regular, real (no technology) breaks and get fresh air.

Work smart and unlock your greatest asset: the ability to think.

Let me know how you get on, especially as we’re approaching the summer. Hopefully.

@StevenWoodgate

10 Steps to Leadership Success

Leadership can be a tough ask. Here are some tips that should help you manage your business more successfully.

1.      Communicate openly and often – Set the tone as people need to know what is expected of them. Give a sense of optimism, and ensure communication is a two-way process. Communication flow is key, supply by giving enthusiastic examples.

2.      Be a team, not a collection of individuals – You are only as good as the people you work with, don’t produce a ‘winners’ culture but provide balanced teams, whether that is with clients, customers or internally.

3.      Match people’s talents to their role – Work should be challenging, interesting and fun, otherwise employees would become bored and dissatisfied. Understand their strengths, and motivate by allocating tasks, clients and challenges to will suit them.

4.      Guide, don’t direct – Give people autonomy and responsibility. Trust them. Speak of vision and desire. Let others learn by experience, and provide opportunity to develop skills. Don’t take them for granted.

5.      Recognise and reward good performance – Praising people generates enthusiasm and builds loyalty, both between work-relationships and client-relationships. However, it’s important to provide coaching for those who needs to improve.

6.      Make your meetings upbeat and inspirational – Speak openly and communicate well. Set and agree clear goals and energise people to hold onto your business visions and values. Stay flexible and respond to any opportunities that may arise.

7.      Find ways to say yes – It’s easy to say no. Even the wildest ideas will get resentment, so say ‘why not’ and explore the idea first.

8.      Learn from any mistakes – It’s impossible for businesses to get everything right all the time. Mistakes are evitable, but treat them as learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to take risks, as smart mistakes will provide the experience to achieve something worthwhile.

9.      Trust your instincts and believe in yourself – Dealing with ambiguity and stress can be emotionally draining. Stay focused, and trust your judgement. There will be tough times, but it’s how you react to those is the key in progression.

10.   Manage your time – Don’t confuse activity with progress. We spend a lot of time being busy. Make what you do count.

 

How to become an Online Influencer

Being an online influencer is not usually the goal of anyone, not initially in the early stage of a career, but in this modern, social media-heavy world, becoming an influencer, or indeed, popular on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn is becoming ever so more important.

There is much thrown around online about how to approach and attract influencers, and how to become an influencer. When achieving such status, it’s important to been seen an industry equal and a resource. Then, when achieved, you would no longer be seen as a nuisance constantly broadcasting your own agenda and business, but hoping others will relay your messages.

However, those who want to be an online influencer, will have to understand that it won’t happen overnight, the truth is that it doesn’t happen easily. It takes hard work. The difference between the people who make it and those who don’t, is dedication and wisely targeted efforts.

Being an influencer yourself is often overlooked as a way to engage with other influences. As mentioned, it takes time. But it is worth it. There is also financial benefit to becoming an influencer, as people with increased value can charge more for services. It’s ultimately a win-win if you, and your business, have the dedication.

You can become a source of knowledge, a trend-setter, and valuable to your peers. You don’t have to settle for the role of squeaky agenda-pushing wheel.

Building strong relationships and trust with your peers is essential in influencing their decisions. Also having a centric attitude towards those that you work with can be as beneficial.

It is vital to listen more and talk less. Don’t talk yourself out of a ‘sales’. By listening to peers, managers, those in the industry, you can create a better formula to make recommendations that will have a larger impact on both of personal perception and of your goals.

Being aware when your peers are struggling, and the need help is the perfect opportunity to offer help. Offering assistance on a fairly consistent basis will show you are invested in making your industry a success, you are not simply looking to pull ahead of the pack.

To challenge yourself too, make sure you work outside your comfort zone. Create something new and try it. Become a leader, and providing adaptability and quick problem solving skills will increase perception that you are an innovator.

Plus, and this blog can’t stress this enough, suggest collaboration. Putting a collective head together to create ideas and new ways of working with help open brainstorming with you at the lead. You will end up of having better vision, and who the other influencers are, too.