Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Challenges of Community Building During Times of Need

If businesses or organizations haven't thought about or implemented social media strategically, they may find themselves with a dilemma when they need something from their community, such as attendance at an event, building momentum for their cause or funding. Perhaps the number of likes or followers is too low, there hasn't been good content or engagement yet now the urgent need or deadline is looming--with little community to activate. What to do?

Unfortunately these are not the ideal conditions to build community. The reason is very simple and can be illustrated with a neighbor analogy: if your next door neighbor rarely spoke to you, made no effort with social niceties, then rang your doorbell one morning in a panic asking for a ride to the airport, how would you feel? You might agree to it because you're on the spot, but you also might make an excuse. You might not even answer the door. Why? No effort had gone into creating the conditions of investment.

Community building can be done in the middle of need but requires thought and planning. How can the organization now, even in the midst of the pressing need, offer great content, great connections, perhaps a giveaway--something to the community as it is built? All the activity on your networks may help get new followers or likes but they can be lost just as quickly if the ratio of asking to giving is skewed.

If this does happen, it is a great opportunity to start thinking strategically about social media so that the organization can capitalize on the energy of the growing community and build investment--before the next need appears.

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