“What Should I Do?” – Social Communities

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on June 03, 2010 in: Social Media Mindmeister

From time to time I’ve been posting a series called “What Should I Do?” about a particular aspect of social media marketing based on the Social Media Framework mindmap in MindMeister.

The social communities topic in the Social Media Framework mindmap seems somewhat empty, especially if you compare it to the immense pile of social networks I am invited to on any given day (by people I barely know). But the basic ones are here – Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace – so there aren’t any surprises. And, I’ll give the author this to his or her credit: it’s a tough category anyway because most social media has some kind of community surrounding it (Twitter users have followers, for example).

If your market is primarily a B2C market, it is understandable if you want to use several communities (Bebo, Facebook, Myspace). If your market is B2B, it’s likely that you’ll stick with LinkedIn (increasingly, though, Facebook is a place for business colleagues to connect). Pick one or two and really build them out and get active on them. If you try to do all of them, you’ll still end up focusing on a couple and doing a half-baked job on the others.

Once you’ve selected the one or two that you are going to be active on, build your profiles fully and be active there. Make it your network. Build relationships with your connections. Ask them how they are doing. Engage with them. Share with them.

Ning is also mentioned. Ning is a way to create niche communities around a specific topic. The idea here is to create a social network around something of your own focus – sort of like a Facebook for people who are only interested in the one thing you’re interested in. I haven’t used Ning very much but I do like the idea. (The only reason I haven’t used it much is because I have lots of other things taking up my attention right now). Ning as a concept is great and if you have a target market who will participate in a social network like that, you’ve got a captive audience who will also be highly engaged and more likely to buy. But if you’re thinking of trying Ning, you’d better weigh the ROI because they are moving away from free networks towards paid networks later this year. (Still, it might be a good thing for your business and worth the cost).

The last item mentioned in the mindmap is Cliqset. Cliqset is a way to pull together all of your content and participation from around the web into one place in a sort-of Lifestream. I like the idea of a Lifestream: People can view your Lifestream as a single repository where all of your links and status updates and bookmarks and published content is gathered. It can position you and it keeps everything altogether.

If you’re looking for a fast start to get a Lifestream going, Cliqset could be for you. But if you don’t mind a couple of extra steps, consider adding a Lifestream to an existing site you own instead. For example, convert a page of your site to a Lifestream (as I have done) or use Twitter as your Lifestream. The reason is, this can end up being an extra thing to pay attention to if it exists outside of your current network of sites, and it doesn’t offer as much value to you because of that: As an example, consider a prospective customer. When they search for you, they might look at your site and your Twitter account but it’s unlikely that they will continue on to look at your Lifestream on Cliqset (or elsewhere). However, if your Lifestream is integrated into an existing network (like your website) they will see it and it will further position you.

I have a lot more to say about social networks, but I’ve given you enough to think about for now! Find a few, succeed with them, and add a Lifestream to one of your existing identities.

Happy Blogging!

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