Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman and I had a rare opportunity this week. We were able to record the Inside PR podcast with all of us sitting face to face in one place in real life. We were in Ottawa to attend the Social Capital Conference. And the best thing for me was that it felt like I was getting together with two of my closest friends for a chat about our shared experiences. Even after all these years, I’m still in awe of the power of social media to enable us to create deep and meaningful relationships over distance. So, even though Martin, Gini and I are together in the same real life space at most four times a year, we have developed a much deeper relationship.
Gini delivered the conference opening keynote explaining how she has built a large and active community around her Spin Sucks blog. The starting point, says Gini, is recognizing that “The one word we all like to hear is our name.” Her approach to community is grounded in this recognition. It has driven her to focus on the people who come to the Spin Sucks blog. She acknowledges them personally, responding to virtually every comment left on the Spin Sucks blog or the Spins Sucks Facebook page. But she goes beyond this. She reaches out to the members of the Spin Sucks community and participates in the discussion in their home spaces. Community is a two way interaction, not just one way.
Another factor to consider in building communities – it takes time. And this is at odds with the short-term, campaign-based approach taken by many marketers. As Gini points out, she has been blogging for seven years, and it took more than one try to find the right combination of factors that led to the current success of Spin Sucks. This same point was made by Sherrilynne Starkie, who presented a real world case study of an international union building community. In Sherrilynne’s words, its success was only possible because the union leadership were prepared to “stay the course” and persevere through early stages of thin participation until members caught on that this was a real and ongoing exercise. Momentum built slowly. The community could not have emerged in a short-term campaign.
Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have demonstrated bot of these fundamentals in building a successful community around the For Immediate Release podcast. They have been persistent and consistent creators of content. They routinely acknowledge their listeners and feature their contributions in the podcast. And they’ve set up a Google+ community to provide listeners with an opportunity to offer their own thoughts and engage in conversation with other members of the community.
This is something we’re trying to do with the Inside PR podcast as well. If you’re a regular listener, please consider joining the Inside PR Google+ community or the Inside PR Facebook group and participating actively. We’d love to involve you in the podcast.
And if you’re still with me, you can listen to the podcast by clicking on the player below.