Social media conversations and making friends

Mitch Joel has written another great post, this one about community building in social media. In particular, he points out how the “build and it and they will come” strategy usually doesn’t work.

Social media is often portrayed simplistically as a monolithic source for new business, much like a new advertising venue. Instead, it should be thought of as a large, diverse set of mostly ad hoc communities of people sharing information in unstructured ways. By it’s very nature, it’s very hard to build a community because the participants are in complete control of what they read and what they say. This means you don’t start by building a community, you start by participating. To quote Mitch Joel,

The community decides when it’s a community… you don’t.

As he points out, you need to build up interest through participating in existing conversations instead of starting with a bullhorn and hoping for listeners. Build credibility by offering useful information to people who may be interested in it. Treat it like you would any other conversation that you might overhear in a public place: be polite, be informative, respective others’ time and points of view. If you walked up to someone on the street and started talking about how great your products and services are, they’d probably ignore you. If you offer something helpful and insightful, they may start to ask questions and listen to more of what you have to say. In real life, you’d be making friends; in social media, you’re basically doing the same thing.

Bookmark and Share