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Why You Are Unpopular Online: Six Ways to Doom Your Community-Building Efforts

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Increasingly, companies are looking to create vibrant and healthy online communities for their businesses. But many companies are seeing their efforts fail or produce less-than-expected results.

Here are six reasons why many online communities never materialize, and what you can do to improve your own efforts to build online communities.

1. You think monetization up front

Probably the fastest way to doom a community-building effort online is to focus on making money off the community before it even exists. Companies that think this way usually build a community site (or slap up a page/profile on a social-networking site) and wait for the community to come so they can make money off its members.

If you look at Wal-Mart's Facebook page, you immediately notice that there's little to no feedback from Wal-Mart, and at least half of the posts/comments/content created by others reflect anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. Wal-Mart has apparently done what many companies do: It slapped up a Facebook page and has done very little to manage it since then. People who visit the page can sense what little effort Wal-Mart is putting into using this page as a way to communicate with customers, and they are reacting negatively.


How to fix it: Don't put the cart before the horse. When creating your online community, keep in mind the best interests of the people you are trying to reach. Communities don't form around the idea of being monetized, so make sure that your community-building efforts have a clear utility built in for its members. Understand that monetization can't effectively happen until the community exists, and the community won't exist unless there's something in it for the people you are trying to reach.


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Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs that let them better connect with their fans. His first business book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April of 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier
LinkedIn: Mack Collier

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  • by Debra Ellis Tue May 26, 2009 via web

    This is a great article Mack. I especially like the points in 5 and 6. I wish some of the "gurus" of social media would take notes. It is ironic to me that many of the people promoting community ignore comments and tweets.

    When I first joined twitter, I didn't join in the discussion. After lurking and observing for a few months, I dove in and started to participate in conversations. I have found that the more I participate, the better my experience.

    Thank you for keeping us on track and being a great example of social media at its best.

  • by Greg Lerdahl Mon May 24, 2010 via web

    Our company has not started an online presence yet, and this article is a priceless set of suggestions on how to best get off the ground. Thank you!

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