Remember those awkward middle school dances? The ones where everyone stood around waiting for something to happen. Small groups of teenagers shuffling awkwardly around the gymnasium, socializing, and waiting for the party to get started.
You can hear a few people griping. The jocks are saying, “These dances are so lame.” And a few others are complaining it’s the DJ’s fault, because the music is “too slow.” But really these gripes are all superficial. Everyone is just biding time waiting for a leader to emerge.
And then one arrives. No one special. Just a girl you know who can’t stand the waiting any longer. She walks out into the middle of the gym, and starts grooving away. She waves to her friends, and they break out into broad smiles and run onto the dance floor. Then a few more join in, and by the end of the song almost everyone is on the dance floor. The party has started.
Social media communities are very much like awkward school dances. They all start with good intentions, but until a leader gets the party started everyone stands around waiting for something happen.
3 steps to get your social media community dancing
First things first, get the party started. Who are you going to invite? Social media communities really don’t get moving until they reach a critical mass of membership.
A social media community needs at least a 1,000 people to become a party. Typically only 1% of your community will be vocal and participatory. The rest of your members are standing around watching, and being entertained by everyone else’s conversations.
To get your party going: invite, invite, invite. Work your butt off to break through the 1,000-member mark. Once you cross this threshold you’ll find the next thousand comes quickly.
When people arrive, what will they talk about? Social media communities rely on conversation. Just like the school dance, nobody likes to dance alone. It’s a lot easier to dance if there are already a bunch people on the dance floor.
While you’re building critical mass in your social media community, you’re going to have to create the dance floor. Seed the group with conversations, and recruit people to participate. You have to give newcomers the impression that your community is a happening place – even if that means carrying on conversations in the community with your staff, vendors and other associates.
Regardless of how much work it takes to spark and sustain conversations in the early days, it’s essential. The conversations that you seed in the group will set the tone and culture for the community once it takes off.
Who is going to do what? You can create a party on your own, but it’s a lot more fun to do it with a group.
A community is about people. It’s not about you; it’s about everyone else. So get people involved. You will need moderators to keep the conversations going in your social media community; connectors with wide social networks to invite people to the party; and creators and curators to share interesting and valuable content with the group to help bring value to all members.
Communities thrive on collaboration. The more you can make yours a party, the more successful it will be.