Want a Community? You Gotta Commit
I belong to an online community of women with a similar loss in common. We have been friends now for over 4 years. I have met some of them in person, but the majority of them I have only typed with – still, if they needed something IRL (in real life) I would be there. They truly are my friends. But, I’ve noticed that there are more differences between my online friends and my IRL friends than just whether I have hugged them or shared a smile. My online friends require more tending to. Do you have a friend that no matter how much time has passed – and I’m talking TIME, could have been a year or more – you can pick up exactly where you left off and feel just as comfortable and close as ever? Yeah, that doesn’t happen in the online world. With online friends, the amount of time you’re away is amplified. While one week IRL time doesn’t amount to much between phone calls, one week unheard from in your online community can equal disaster. Friends may feel abandoned and may no longer believe that you’re a person they can count on. They don’t engage with you as much as they used to, so to get the value (the trust) back in the relationship, you have to work at it.
This goes double for businesses. We counsel our clients to build and be a part of online communities. With the right group and the right issue, this PR strategy can reap big rewards in that you have gathered together those that could advocate for you, should you ever need them. But I have yet to see a client make the commitment – hire a social community manager or at least dedicate time DAILY to tend to their communities – to do it right. Making friends online is not something that can be half-assed. IRL, you might be able to get away with that, but the magnifying glass of the online world doesn’t allow for anything less than whole-hearted commitment.