Building a Community

#Bufferchat 02/18/2015

A conversation on how to build a community organized by @Buffer with @catykobe

Every Wednesday, from 12:00–1:00 PM EST one of the loudest groups on Twitter gathers around the hashtag Bufferchat. I first participated start of the year and it has become something I look forward to each week, to connect, learn, and share with others from around the world.

This week the guest was Caty Kobe, Head of Training at Feverbee, an organization providing training and consulting to those trying to develop their own online communities.

It was an incredible conversation with over 2500 tweets sent out. With all the amazing knowledge being shared at a fast pace, I knew I missed a lot and decided to go back to review and do a recap.

The intro is always “Where are you tweeting from?” along with a question usually relating to the topic. There were participants from snowy Boston, sunny Los Angeles, Berlin, Morocco, Bangalore, and many other countries.

Question 1. What does community mean to you?

There were some great answers with the common theme being a group of people that gather together in some form out of common interest and an overall desire to help each other.

@catykobe I define community as “a specific group of people who have developed relationships around a strong common interest.”
@jayvig all like-minded people overlapping for a common cause
@clearvoice Community means a safe assembly of people with similar interests.
@alfred_lua To me, community is a group of people who loves to be together and help one another for a particular cause! ☺
@Lana_Layne Community is also another safe group to encourage discourse

Just look at what the #Bufferchat is and you will see a perfect example of community. A group of like-minded people gathering together to share and help each other.

Question 2. What advice do you have for someone building an online community?

There were some great answers again and will list a few but the bottom line it simple; be human and treat others with respect. Listening and helping will get you in the right direction.

@unbounce Know your audience, find where they are & participate in those existing communities to start building relationships. ^Hayley
@catykobe Take the time to research your customers & target community members. Learn who they are, what they do, and what they think.
@ThinkSEM Don’t forget to listen. Be a learning center. Create content of value. Stay active. Engage. Show you care.
@mention Pay more attention to engagement than the number of followers. Listen and be active. Have a consistent voice ☺
@withElan Listen and participate! Don’t look at it like you’re the King/Queen of your community.

Listen, learn, and add value were my key takeaways.

Question 3. How do you pick the best social networks or platform for your community?

You need to know where your people are, be realistic in how many places you can be, and what is appropriate for your group.

@PetrPinkas Just observing how communities behave on each of the networks and choose the right one according the strategy
@Learning_Dude You don’t. It’s not about you. It’s about us. Let us, the Community, decide.
@danielleirogers You want to be where your audience is. If you audience uses Twitter, a Facebook group isn’t going to get you anywhere.
@catykobe Going where your members are is a good thing… Consider if you want an owned, branded community or not
@mtio Meet them where they are and serve them so well that they move to what works best

Question 4. What qualities make for a strong community?

Make people feel welcome and that everyone can contribute and is heard.

@MarissaBurdett A strong community is energized by collaboration, thrives when all voices are heard, & looks for ways to grow.
@GlendaVee Engagement, strong common interest, passion and a sense of value from relationship.
@calgarydreamer I’ve found a strong community always challenged each other, supported and found ways to inspire one another.
@unbounce Members who feel heard, valued and empowered to help others in the community. And have fun while they’re there. ;) ^Hayley
@jayvig a good community is when the person at the helm is part of it.
@cahmusiclvr Mutual respect. Making people feel welcomed. This chat makes me feel welcomed.
@Liliholl Engagement, Loyalty, Commitment, Transparency, Conversation.
@catykobe Relationships BETWEEN members. A space where people feel safe to contribute.

Question 5. How do you keep in touch with your community’s needs?

Listen, acknowledge, and react.

@catykobe Listening is one part of the equation. Acknowledging, processing, & acting on what you’ve learned is crucial.
@catykobe Put yourself in your community member’s shoes for a min. Esp if you’re running a brand community!
@catykobe By listening to them. ☺
@jayvig the magical thing about social and communities is that people are begging to tell you what they like and hate.
@TheCodyVision I treat them like community members. I’ve had phone calls and several hour long Skype discussions with my community.
@AnOrchidInBloom Listen! And not just in one room. Listen all over. What’s important that day? That moment? React quickly and w purpose.
@unbounce Listen! Identify key members & encourage feedback. Ask questions. Pay attention to which content resonates. ^Hayley
@SWrightBoucher The community may take conversations in new directions. Don’t try to control everything.

In the end, it is simple, listen.

Question 6. What blogs or sites are great resources for community-building tips?

There were some great resources listed, many that I have been checking out.

@ShannnonB Community.is from @LoyalCX, http://blog.mention.com ☺, @cloudpeeps, @CMX, @FeverBee (obvi), @buffer & so many more…
@catykobe I also follow vendor blogs. You’ll see a lot of product info & case studies that you could translate into inspiration!
@catykobe @thecr’s blog is great… they do great recaps, research they publish is second to none: http://www.communityroundtable.com/blog/
@catykobe Managing Communities by @patrickokeefe is one of my all time favorites: http://www.managingcommunities.com/
@jayvig so many chats are resources. they provide content from the source and the community all at once
@stacyannhayles I like to watch great communities instead, and learn directly from practitioners.

In a non-scientific method, I am sure the overall most mentioned on this one is Buffer’s blog https://blog.bufferapp.com/

Question 7. What books do you recommend for community-building inspiration?

@CMX Design for Community by @fraying, community building on the web by @amyjokim The community manager playbook by @laurenperkins
@stacyannhayles You should probably check out @kimgarst’s new book — Will The Real You Please Stand Up
@catykobe I really love business books for community inspiration. Switch is an all time fave: http://www.amazon.com/Switch-Change-Things-When-Hard/dp/0385528752 …
@catykobe Really anything related to social psychology, business, and design can help inspire your community game.

Some other popular choices were anything by @garyvee and, of course, Tribes by Seth Godin.

The #Bufferchat is an amazing hour each week to learn what community is.

I welcome any feedback on this post. I apologize if I made any mistakes in attributions. There were a lot of other great tweets and I encourage you to look through Twitter or some of the other recaps.

All images created using the amazing new Pablo app from @buffer Be sure to try it out at https://bufferapp.com/pablo# Thank you to @nmillerbooks, Community Champion @buffer for bringing this group together.