When marketing decision makers are asked about social media, most think of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and the other popular public platforms. Immediately, they also begin to complain about everything they hate about those platforms: Lack of control, inappropriate or irrelevant posts, diminished brand visibility, decreasing ROI and spam.
As an alternative, many businesses and organizations are creating their own internal and external communities. Those efforts range from actively using their blogs’ commenting functionality to actively engage readers, to creating entire websites that build external communities around their brands. Larger businesses are also creating social intranets to build community among their internal team members.
Building your own communities has its advantages:
- You have total control of the features and functionalities. If you don’t like how LinkedIn groups or Facebook pages work, you can modify your functionality.
- You decide who can and can’t participate. You have the power to keep out troublemakers, spammers and competitors.
- It’s all yours. Information you gather, relationships you build and goodwill you create all belong to you and not a third party social media platform.
There are some disadvantages:
- You’ll need to create the platform yourself. Fortunately most content management systems provide you with all the elements necessary to create and manage communities.
- The community itself needs to be built. You’ll need to attract participants, and you’ll have to do it quickly. Critical mass must be achieved almost immediately to provide enough value to sustain and scale it.
If there are enough people to build a community around your brand, consider creating an online community. You may not become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but you’ll add enough value to your brand to make it worth the effort.
This article originally appeared as a February 23, 2015 BizTimes Social Media Strategies column