My presentation on building online communities

I was invited to speak about ‘Building online communities to support successful media brands’ on Tuesday by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, as part of an event covering what Scholarly Publishing can learn from other industries.

As the opening act, and with a subject so huge, I opted to go for a fairly general overview to hopefully inspire more people to give it a go without worrying about the ‘correct’ way to do things – because I’ve found that beyond some simple principles, the most important thing is tailoring what you do to your specific community.

In retrospect I probably could have included some more specific case studies – for instance Absolute Radio on Twitter and Facebook! But that’s why I subtitled it ‘a work in progess’ because anything on online communities is going to need constant revision and updating, and I intend to create v2.0, v3.0 etc and hopefully involve some more people to create a more comprehensive guide.

Social media marketing has been around forever…

Campfire pic by Lord Bute on Flickr

I often refer to social media marketing starting when a caveman went running to the next cave to tell his neighbours about this new thing he’d discovered called ‘fire’. It’s something I’ve referred to in internal and external presentations, and it hopefully drives home the fact that recommendations between friends is something that has gone on since humanity started communicating.

The reason it came to mind recently is that I’ve finally got round to reading a book recommended to me by a good colleague a couple of years ago. Ironically enough, having bought 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey, I got about halfway through, got distracted, and didn’t actually finish it!

I’ve finally got round to rectifying that slightly abysmal failure, and part of the book struck a chord with me when Covey talks about researching the ‘success literature’ of several hundred years, and the fact that early examples all centred around a principled ‘Character Ethic’ approach, rather than the 20th century methods of quick fixes.

And when we all talk about The Best Practices in Social Media, we all talk about ethics such as honesty, respect, listening, being human etc.

Perhaps some of the quick fixes we’ve used for our individual success and our marketing and advertising really are just momentary blips in the evolution of human communication? Maybe that’s one of the reasons the current economic system is being questioned as much as it is at the moment? And why people like David Parmet are calling for bigger differences and effects to come from social media and networks. Along with the likes of Tim O’Reilly and Shel Isreal (links in David’s post).

Maybe it’s also why the likes of myself and David Cushman are impatiently trying to solve the problems of showing returns on investment in social media.

And whilst writing this I’m reminded of the prioritisation method of looking at the things which are Important but not Urgent, and concentrating on them to avoid them becoming Important and Urgent as much as possible. Too often it appears we’re looking at the short term, and not preventing problems before it becomes crisis management.

So if you fancy becoming more effective as an individual or a company, try 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Combine being effective with reading books on understanding the new economy, how ideas spread, and how to join in, and it seems to me you’ll have caught up on Web 2.0 and the last couple of hundred years!