Today's post is from Rosemary O'Neill from Social Strata!

There’s a river of conversation going on all around you.  Are you participating in it? Whether someone within your organization is actually called a community manager or not, you need to be a contributor to the social conversation around your brand or industry.

If you provide a focal point for the conversation, particularly if it’s based on your own website, you can direct it in ways that benefit everyone.  Customers, fans, and your business join forces to build a useful reservoir of information and relationships, and you can be the facilitator.  Did I mention that dynamic, deep content on your website is excellent for your search ranking?

Directing and harnessing the Class V whitewater of information and social conversation is important.  You can jump in, be helpful, and become a trusted rafting guide.

But the real point of managing your online community is to find and foster real human connections.  When the trusted connection is made for the long-term, often business shakes out of it as a by-product.  We all want to ride down the river with people we trust, right?

Tips for Building Your Community

  • Find your community and engage with them (don’t try to sell them anything). Ideally, set up social outposts that feed back to your home base.
  • Don’t start messing with technology until you have already personally reached out to a core group who will benefit from your community.
  • Set some ground rules, notice the tone and personality, but maintain civility.
  • Give members ownership and responsibilities.
  • Recognize your leaders and evangelists. Public thanks is often more appealing than trinkets or t-shirts.
  • Don’t reflexively delete negative comments. The biggest haters can become the biggest boosters if handled correctly.
  • Make a place where you’d want to hang out.
  • Look for resources and support (#CMGRchat,, blogs, training courses, etc.). There is a lot of free information out there!

Are you managing your community like a pro?  What are the challenges you’re facing?

Rosemary O'Neill

Rosemary O’Neill is Co-Founder/President of Social Strata, which makes the online community platform.  For the last 14 years, she has been evangelizing the social conversation.  You can find her online via Twitter (@rhogroupee), on her small business blog at, and on Google+.  She also makes a mean blueberry pie.

image: Churn - courtesy of Flickr


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