Build Your Community Before You Need Them

Today’s post is a simple concept, but one I still think people miss. You need to build your community before you need them. When your company has news, a product launch, an event or something they want to spread via users socially – it’s way too late. Unless you already have a community built. While interesting news can definitely help a brand grow it is no longer your bread and butter.

Expecting users are going to organically spread your message just because you have something professional media might care about is not how it works. You need to build your community before you have news to spread. Only then will you have forged a connection and built permission with a critical mass of people who will genuinely care what it is you’re doing. This happens bit by bit over time (with some buzz thrown in for good measure, for sure).

Without a community:

  • There is low or no chance anyone will organically link to you or share your content across platforms. If they do it’s by chance because without a community who do you have to take such an action? Maybe you’ll get lucky once in awhile but it’s not sustainable.
  • You are basically paying to reach the same audience time and time again instead of consistently increasing your community who you can tap repeatedly to spread messages. This is how most brands treat the web and the world, which is sad because it’s no longer the way it has to be. That’s how the TV industrial-complex ran but those days are long dated.
  • You have no leverage in social channels and do not position yourself for increasing returns. And remember, outposts like Twitter and Facebook only take you so far: you will never have a truly valuable community without growing opt-in at the source.

Certainly there are things you can do in social channels without a community. But at the end of the day these items are fleeting and provide temporary results. There is no long term value without a following surrounding your brand with a vested interest to hear what you’re doing next.

Jeremiah had a similar thought when he encouraged users to build their network before they need them:

Those who ignore the party/conversation/network when they are content and decide to drop in when they need the network may not succeed. It’s pretty easy to spot those that are just joining the network purely to take –not to give. Therefore, be part of the party/conversation/network before you need anything from anyone. Start now, and continue to build relationships by giving now: share knowledge, help others, and become a trusted node and connector, not just an outlying ‘dot’ of a comet that swings in every 4 years or so.

Indeed. It’s not so different for your company. If you simply throw the promotions team at the web when you have something you want promoted you’re basically setting yourself up for failure. Your community is a long-term, high value asset that should build upon itself and provide very tangible outcomes for your company. But not if you don’t make building it a priority, before you actually need it. Start today.

image credit: djem via Shutterstock