A Social Media Community Built on Caring and Content

You have to build your social media community on caring and content.

You have to build your social media community on caring and content.

I read a lot of blogs. I love when I find someone who has captured an idea that I hadn’t quite put into words for myself. Or when I find someone who challenges me to take the next step in my thinking. Both happened for me today while reading Jason Baer‘s blog, Convince and Convert. I wrote such a long comment to his blog that I decided to blog about it here.

Jason’s main idea is that with social media, we need to pay attention to the people who turn off our services, the email newsletter unsubscribers, or Twitter unfollowers. He says that we need to care more. I completely agree with Jason that we need to pay attention to our audience, and to care about their needs. Social media is about a dialog with real people, and not about statistics, the size of the network, or other impersonal metrics.

Jason gave an example of a guy who unfollowed him on Twitter, and explained the actions he took to find out why the guy left. (For those of you who don’t use Twitter, an unfollow is like unsubcribing from a newsletter.) I thought his note was brilliantly written to find out why the guy quit, and I love that he did this.

My Social Media Reach

In the last year, I have vigorously engaged in the social media realm. Through trial and error, by lucky choices and complete mistakes, I’ve started to develop a social media strategy for my business. My decisions come through the filter of my business, my business goals, and my personality. In a nutshell, I’m doing these things:

  • Launched a new blog (you are reading it now).
  • Began commenting on blogs focused around my business and business goals.
  • Launched two separate Twitter accounts (personal and business).
  • Built a personal site on Facebook.
  • Built a professional site on LinkedIn.
  • Built a professional site on Biznik.
  • Compiled a feed of contributions through FriendFeed.
  • Post personal photographs on Flickr.

Because of this increased social media activity, I’ve started to evaluate tools and methods for keeping track of my social media presence, and other ways to make myself and my business available for conversations with the community.

My Twitter Strategy

Twitter has become one of my main social media tools, and I use it every day. As a result, I’m getting pretty clear about why I use it, what I expect from it, and how I use it. (I will write a blog entry about Twitter for newbies and those of you who don’t use it later.)

I recently implemented a change in my Twitter use that I believe has increased my effectiveness. I can’t control who follows me, but I am in charge of whom I follow. This means that I control the quality, the quantity, and the focus of the conversations available for my participation. Based on my experience, I have become more selective about the people I follow. I use the following guidelines to determine whom to follow.

I follow:

  • People in my geographic community (who are relevant to my real life business and personal interactions).
  • People in my business realm (who contribute to the ongoing conversation about issues and improvements).
  • People who talk about things that I’m interested in (outside of business) that inspire me to be the person I want to be.

I run into a lot of fascinating people because they follow me on Twitter, people who are making very interesting contributions to the community. Yet, I choose not to follow them because I simply don’t have the time. I don’t have the time to listen and dialog with everyone out there. By limiting my following list, I can spend more time listening and talking with the people I do follow. As I said to Jason:

“It’s not my judgment of their value to the community at large, it’s only my evaluation in terms of my limited personal bandwidth.”

Time will show me if I have really improved my effectiveness. I expect to constantly monitor and tweak my strategy based on my experience.

Back to Jason’s Point

I like Jason’s strategy to conduct an exit interview with people who stop following me on Twitter, and may adopt something similar myself. If I discover that someone stops following me because I didn’t follow them back, I’m not going to worry about that. However, if someone stops following me because I’m not relevant or my content is thin, I will look at that carefully to see if that feedback can help me to improve my contributions.

I want my community built on content and caring. I don’t care how large it gets, or what social media ranking tools have to say about my work. I want the individual people in my community to join me because I get it, I say things that have value for them, and I listen to them. Those things happen when I care about my community, and that is what Jason is talking about.

Your Turn

You’ve heard what I think. What do you think? How and why do you use social media? What do you expect from the people you follow?

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

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