Have You Participated in an Online Community and Did Not Enjoy it?
I have been thinking a lot about online communities. One aspect what makes them tick, or rather what makes them bust? Thinking that some of these thoughts probably apply to all types of social media I decided to dig in and break down and understand what truly makes online community experiences fail and then focus on what makes them work. Not to be a downer, but today we will focus on some of the negative aspects. It seems apparent that many of these items also relate to the success or lack of success for blogs and other posts.
There are many blog articles referring to success criteria, so I feel comfortable thinking that the opposite of their thoughts are reasons why communities do not flourish and thrive.
One theme that seems to come up is, leader/facilitator focus on earnings or financial growth. It makes sense that if your commitment to the community only extends to a financial end you will eventually come to a place where people lose interest and / or feel taken advantage of. No one wants to feel that way and people pretty easily come to that conclusion.
A second area to consider is the community being mobile ready. Is your community available and usable on a phone? If not, chances are your community involvement will be greatly minimized. People who cannot access your community during a quick 5-minute break are probably not going to visit nearly as often or get engaged in what is going on in the community during their work hours. Yet many will have a few minutes during lunch or a break to check out what is happening if the community is easy to use and access on their mobile device. I remember when eBay first came out, my teammates were frequent in their online visits to take a quick look at how an auction item they were interested in was doing. Same is true today for communities that foster interest, especially if we can use our phone.
Third and final for today, lack of plan. Where is the community going? How will it get there? It is not enough just to have people talk to one another. There must be a purpose for the conversation and sharing. I have found that to be true, I have been in several communities, where there was a significant amount of discussion and sharing, but I never felt connected to a goal, to a value that made it worth while for me to stay around for a while. I looked at the number of groups that I am a member of in Facebook. I was surprised to see it was more than 25. I probably participate in 4-5 on a regular basis although for the most part they too have no real objective, but I have developed relationships with people and that keeps me around. For the most part 20 or so of the groups/communities I am a member of never or rarely show up in my feed with posts, so I have forgotten them and moved on. This may point to another potential issue facing communities, the determination of what shows up in your feed by the “algorithms”, there is some reason why I am not seeing any posts. In truth it is hard enough to see my friends and family posts let alone the groups.
Considering the planning aspect, I would say that most of the groups I participate in are more gatherings than purposeful. More for a social aspect perhaps, than for achieving something together. This seems to be a particularly important consideration.
This is probably enough to mull over today, it seems that it would take far too much time to cover all the potential issues with communities in this one post. I will continue tomorrow. I do think these points apply in some way to all our social media activities, valid points for consideration.
What do you find are negatives about community involvement? Do you enjoy it, or do you find yourself running from some communities? I am extremely interested in hearing your perspective.