photo by Kris Hoet–Creative Commons
By Ed Nicholson
I’ve had the opportunity to speak at some really great conferences in the past couple of weeks, including Interactive Austin, and the always energizing BlogWell. One of the best things about going to these things is the opportunity to hear a diversity of smart people talk about how organizations implement social media.
A theme that seems to consistently emerge–and always interests me as a community builder–is that communities–either spontaneous or planned–will arise wherever there’s passion and common interest. It’s always been that way, but the advent of social networking tools has significanlty aided and amplified the phenomenon.
Brands and organizations can choose to either host these communities themselves or allow them to grow independently (which they will). There are pros and cons to each approach.
The largest consumer fan page on Facebook is for Coke (3.4 million members and growing). It wasn’t created by Coke, and they don’t run it. Check out this entertaining video from its creators (fortunately for Coke, they’re die-hard fans).
Planet Cancer is a quickly growing community of young adults united by their common challenge, often edgy and irreverent in their approach. The American Cancer Society probably could have started it. But they didn’t. (not passing judgement on that; just making note).
These communities provide a place for members to converse with each other, share information, get questions answered, post video and images–any number of things that allow members to develop relationships with each other and the brand.
Online communities can be messy and hard to control. That’s not an easy concept for established, focused, well-ordered organizations to embrace. I know.
The hunger community will find a home online, I’ve no doubt. The question is, under whose roof?
By the way, just to remind you: Today is Friday. At school lunch, hundreds of thousands of kids will get the last good meal they’ll have until Monday. Enjoy your weekend.