Growing community in social networks begins with a passion for shared experience. If you want to be part of something exciting right now, put a few words associated with YOUR favorite activity into a search field at any social network. You are sure to find living, breathing human beings awake and actively discussing your passion RIGHT NOW.
The metrics of growing communities have to be related to heart first. We all want and love specific people and activities in life. And that passion dictates how and where we spend our hard earned dollars. Community managers who understand this very real truth about human beings do not push products, events or services. They initially engage in conversation with others about a shared passion. The offerings within a dynamic community generally emerge out of a collective wish list or a mutually desired experience. Those highly attended events are birthed from noticing where people like to congregate. Great community managers are passionate about the niche topics related to their brand and lead others into mutually gratifying experiences.
When we lay out a plan for growing a community, our initial goals ought to center around creating meaningful content and discovering individuals who feed passion. A community manager who has lived, eaten and breathed a topic finds this naturally and is excellent at listening and encouraging members of the community. Everyone in a community has their own unique way of expressing interest, insight and observation. Good community managers facilitate a collective story fed by everyone in the “circle”. This weaving of stories is how cohesive communities form and provides a context for spreading awareness of a product/service. We need those thousand true fans as our initial base to carry on the work of the Community Manager.
It is the job of a Community Manager to nurture conversation. A Twitter stream, a Facebook wall post, a comment thread on a blog, a winning presentation on Slideshare, a location on FourSquare, a widely pinned photo on Pinterest, a video on YouTube that gets passed around: these are ALL seeds to be watered and nurtured by a Community Manager. JESS3 has given community managers a very precise map of content that different consumers interact with when considering a product or service (The Content Grid). It is a community manager’s job to identify, create and spread each of these pieces of content into the social fabric of the Internet.
For more on people-centered Community Management read this interview I did with Eleftherios Hatziioannou, former social manager for Mercedes Benz.