It’s Community, Stupid

I don’t care if you’re building the next Ottoman Empire, the next killer app or the next killer leveraged buyout, you are doomed to failure if you neglect the concept […]

I don’t care if you’re building the next Ottoman Empire, the next killer app or the next killer leveraged buyout, you are doomed to failure if you neglect the concept of building a community.  And sometimes, it will be a slow, torturous, decades-before-it-happens failure.

Steve Case knew the value of building community (and he still knows it [link to case foundation]) when he started America Online.  Every social media platform alive today owes its existence in some way to the precedents set to by AoL and other early pioneers–The Source, CompuServe and Lotus 1-2-3.

English: , of fame.

Mitch Kapor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Say what? Lotus 1-2-3?  Yep.  What Mitch Kapor, inventor of Lotus 1-2-3 came to understand early on is that software could generate community.  The wonderfully brilliant part of Lotus 1-2-3 was it’s adaptability; it’s ability to become things not yet seen or dreamed of.  The way people started using Lotus 1-2-3 in Africa was totally different from how they used it on Wall St. And from there a community, natch, a global community, rose up around the trading of various spreadsheets for innovative projects that were worlds away from calculating ROI and EBITA.  (And we all owe Mitch a much bigger collective “thanks” for the part he played in developing communities around software than he’s generally given due.)

My own CyberWire Dispatch–the godfather of the blogging movement–was successful because of the community that grew up around it.  (And I am forever in the debt of all those CWD readers… bless you a 1,000 times over my friends… )

Here is a brilliant, pithy, take on what community means, from the equally brilliant and pithy Brian Solis, that I’ve snatched from his blog post, “The Five Pillars of New Media Strategy”:

Don’t just think about social media as an editorial or marketing program. That’s just table stakes.  In fact, don’t just limit this to social media at all. This is a chance to rethink the entire engagement strategy and the customer journey. Ultimately, you’re setting the stage for something more meaningful and substantive…the experience. Community isn’t defined by Likes or followers. Those are essentially “in the moment” actions. We’re talking about human beings. Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter. Participate in the communities that you host and also the communities that host the conversations that are important to your business. That’s the secret to earning a lasting affinity the contributes to you becoming a trusted resource.

About brock

Brock is currently the Executive Editor at Atlantic Media Strategies and former Chief Washington Correspondent for MSNBC; he is the founder/creator/editor of CyberWire Dispatch, the Net's pioneering online journalistic news service. Previously he was the Director of Communications for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based public interest group working to keep the Internet open, innovative and free. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect the opinions, attitudes or policy positions of his employer(s) past or present.