Building online communities

Art created by children, inc my youngest niece, at an art class in Kingston Upon Thames. Photo © Rupert Cheek, 2017

Online networks are about not promoting yourself but discussing ideas. Online communities are not about self promotion; they’re about discussing ideas and challenges.Jason McCabe Calacanis on This Week in Startups

After listening to an episode of This Week In Startups — Jason Calacanis’ podcast about entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, startups & tech, I asked some of the people who had recently posted in the Cheeky Promo Facebook group “Do you find posting in this group adds any / much value to you or the musicians you’re promoting? If not, what can I / we do to change that?

One of MY challenges is building an engaged / engaging online community bassed around a shared passion for music. What can *I* post in the group(s) to engage people? What can I do to encourage people to engage with other peoples posts in the group(s)? What can other members of the community people do?

I try to encourage people to be personal in their posts — to share something about THEM, about the (s0ng) they are sharing — how / when / why / who they wrote it, when they first performed it. I attended an event organised by the MMF [Music Managers Forum] in London a few years ago and one of the people on the panel said ‘share content that helps people get to know you’ — and it stuck with me.

Steven Fennell I find posting in most groups not much value, we have new stuff added daily, posting on my page, google+, Facebook ( not groups ) and Twitter are the post I am doing from now on, will not post in your group any other. I will post where I get responses. … All the links have personal stuff, hey, all these post do well on the other sites and pages, you only have a few likes on your pinned post, that should tell you what kind of group you have, that is the same in big groups, 30,000 members and 100 likes. That tells me people are just using the groups for their own stuff and don’t care about anything else, that is the new generation, but this is not helping, there are other major factors that is why I am not posting any more on the groups I have on my personal account, only through After Alice and the page has all the personal stuff if you have the ambition to click on a few buttons . Thats all, thanks

Donald J Makin; For the radio I do feel it gives a bigger audience than just a local audience. A round up post in group for every one would be good- a wee monthly write up if you in so and so go to.

What makes YOU join, post in and engage with a group on LinkedIn or Facebook?

Marc Yeats: “I find groups on LinkedIn not as active as groups on Facebook with little interaction between group members. Consequently I don’t actively belong to many groups here. But if I do join a group, it needs to be genre specific to the type of music I write, contemporary abstract classical music, for instance, and deal with either compositional or performance issues. A group is useful if it enlightens, promotes or enables performances of one’s work. I don’t join groups that have general intentions around PR or composition/performance issues that never effect me or my work or groups that deal with music making in different genre areas to my own as they are not useful. I have never found that large communities of musicians drawn from popular music, jazz, experimental, classical, avant garde etc., have ever been of any use or interest to me at all as their needs are so wide and issues so broad no one group can ever cater for them, and the groups tend to become dominated by the largest numbers of members which, in mixed groups, never would be contemporary classical composers. Consequently, the conversations and topics are geared towards issues concerning popular music, jazz and rock/folk music practitioners, etc., which as stated, are hugely different to the issues I face in my segment of the music world.”

Sandy Holland: “The Linkedin group has to be of professional interest to me and have members who discuss relevant issues politely and contribute to the pool of knowledge e.g. music psychology, with a group admin/ owner who posts articles that are not solely about themselves and their business. Facebook groups I join may reflect my personal interests too. Worth considering: why stay in a group? I’m only likely to stay in a group if members like/discuss/share what I post.

WHY do YOU share content online? WHY do you talk to people when you meet / see them? WHY do you email or phone them? WHY do you hang out with them? WHY do you form bands / ensembles / orchestras / quartets? WHY do you perform in front of an audience?

Surely the answer is to connect with people; ‘to share ideas and challenges’.

HOW do you connect with people? HOW do you start and build friendships? By giving them / sharing part(s) of yourself with them, and giving them the space to share parts of themselves.

What was the last post on social media you actually actively engaged with? WHY did you look at / read / listen to / watch it? how did it make you FEEL? (How / how well) did you know the person who published it? How did you get to know them? Have you met them in person, In Real Life? Did you meet them online first or offline first?

I joined a closed group, on Facebook earlier today on the suggestion of one of my connections on LinkedIn. The group aims to help members to ‘get high-end clients on LinkedIn’ and “is a place for successful and established business owners, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants to connect, collaborate, and share strategies and projects”. Part of the rules of the group reads thus;

Please read the group rules before jumping into posting, and even though I STRONGLY encourage you to post and engage, please remember there is no pitching allowed in this group. That means no outside blog posts to collect leads, MLM, links to your business page etc. Provide value and interact with the people in this group. You can post about anything you want, it doesn’t have to be only LinkedIn related, but please stick to the rules. Now, please introduce yourself to the group and tell a bit about what you do.

You can post anything as long as it’s not self promotion, and it adds value to other members. I’ve started thinking about how *I* / we can build a more engaged community on (especially) Facebook (as well as LinkedIn and Google+).

  1. insist people only share posts in which they offer to help others
  2. insist people only share resources which help others
  3. insist people only promote other members of the group, not themselves
  4. insist those who want to share their own (music) do 1, 2 and/or 3 first
  5. insist people who want to share their own (music) provide some value to someone/everyone [give some advice / encouragement / ask about / Share their post] in the group first
  6. Post with value / promotion thread; offer value to the person who commented above you and then promote your own (music)
  7. Rupert to stop posting in the group
  8. Rupert to comment on every post ‘thank you for sharing’ & offer some value to poster by asking a question / suggesting improvement to post / suggesting someone they might like to connect with / suggesting a resource that would help them / venue they’d like to play at, etc
  9. Free promotion for members who provide value for other members — perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis.

Which of these do you think would make the most impact? What’s the most engaging online community YOU are a member of? How many Facebook groups are you a member of? How often do you check into each group? Do you look at / listen to / watch / read / comment on other people’s posts?What get’s your attention?

Please join the our Facebook group / LinkedIn group / Google+ community, introduce yourself by sharing your challenges and any ideas you have about online communities. It would be great to know where you live as well.