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Friday, February 1, 2013

Understanding Communities

Many people do not think of online communities as "real World," This is often a huge and costly mistake in the context of Web series "marketing." The only difference between online and off is that the way you behave online can make a radical difference but it can be much less clear why it makes a difference if you are simply looking at the online community as an inert Web page, not a "living breathing entity."

The Web series World is filled with creative people who have worked amazingly hard on their projects. They think of their projects as special and hence deserving of an "audience," All too often that audience, at least in the numbers desired, remains illusive. This can be frustrating for sure. However, the response to this frustration is all too often disastrous.

 Web series "experts" often recommend that creators find online communities that would logically fit their target demographic and promote their series to those commutities. Makes sense, right? Now and again, a creator will be in the right place, at the right time, with the right series, and all goes well. This feeds into the notion that approaching a community is easy. Is it? Probably not. All to often creators migrate from community to community trying to promote their series without any genuine interest in being a participant. This can get you noticed, but not always in a good way.

Think about real World communities. How would you react if someone came to your community, knocked at your door and tried to sell you a product? This may once have been a viable model, but today the door is likely to be slammed in your face with the same rejection that telemarketers often receive when they interrupt your favorite TV show.

There are a few problems here. The "sales process" is a delicate one and today's consumer has their radar set on high alert for a sales pitch. That is why they often do not react well to "cold posts," no matter how polite they may be written. The second problem is that it takes time for a community to become comfortable with a new entrant. People want to get to know you, but if you approach them with what is essentially a sales pitch, you come across as someone with an agenda; not someone who wants to genuinely participate in a community.

Communities are intrinsically open to those who authentically want to engage with other members. Communities are open to those who want to invest in the community and make it a better place to exist.

What to do? Well, often the best approach is to carefully study the community you are interested in. Get to know its participants, its conventions, and learn how things are normally done. Everyone enjoys an introduction when it seem sincere, but they will reject an introduction that is merely a "sales pitch." Next become familiar with the content that has recently been posted in the community. Most likely you found the community because you had a shared interest, so if your intentions are "honorable" that should be no problem. Take "baby steps" deeper into the community by commenting on existing posts and doing what you can to spark off a conversation with other community members. Next, begin to share information that seems pertinent to ongoing conversations. Make your presence felt, but in a way that feels organic to the community. Yes, all of this takes time and patience, but as the old expression goes: "no pain, no gain".

At this point the community will begin to accept you as "one of their own." When you feel you have been "accepted" by the community, you will find that when you begin to post your own creative content people will treat it as "home grown" and be much more receptive.

There is no magical formula for all communities. Each community, online or off, has its own "personality" and may require a slightly different approach. However if you approach an online community with the same respect and enthusiasm to participate that you would for a new "real World" community you are off to a good start.

Do you have any community tips you would like to share?

 Leave a comment and let the community know you are here! https://plus.google.com/101175516092771757092/posts/Y2ih2nNLiEB


  1. Yes, it is an extremely time consuming process, but it can be amazingly rewarding because the friendships you build up along the way can become a significant part of your existence. Just ask Tachyfin:):):)

  2. "Do you have any community tips you would like to share?"

    WST thank you for throwing that out there.

    I've just started to promote my webseries (which is still in preproduction) and I'm spending a considerable amount of time trying to find meaningful ways to interact with communities.

    I'd love to hear what other readers in this situation are doing to build real relationships with their fan base.

    1. You can see one good example on the comments to this thread:


      Look at how Pink Slip cleverly interacts with the "community pet" Tachyfin on this blog , and still gets across her message. She has taken the time to understand the significance of Tachyfin on the blog. She injects some clever humor. She participates. So when she talks about her project, or posts a video it comes across as organic to this blog. It may seem silly to some, but it actually is amazingly powerful.

  3. Thanks for a great post! Building relationships is how we operate our "real world" business....the web one is just the same!

    1. The Web does help empower the individual and that is a great thing. It can also break down barriers and put "creators" and "participants" on the same level. This is one of the key dynamics of both communities and Web series.


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