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Quality Over Quantity When Building Community

Lately I’ve been both thinking  a lot about community.  There’s an awful lot of buzz out there on what the most important aspect of community truly is. Some believe it’s the sheer number of followers, likes, friends, etc.  Many push out copy and content that is irrelevant to the community they are serving, just for the sake of regurgitating something to the masses; upping their tweet count and Facebook posts, and hoping to increase their search rankings. Although the thought of having the “most” is intriguing, I am not so sure that it’s the best way to go about things.

Let’s take a step back here, and think about an example I’m sure we can all relate to.  High school; where popularity was king.  Many of us spent four years fighting to have the most friends, feel included, and to make sure people knew who we were.  Quantity over quality was the teenage mindset.  Looking back in time, it all seems a bit foolish.  After all, how many of us now are still friends with everyone that we went to high school with?  The friends we focused so much time and energy to impress and accumulate aren’t relevant anymore, or in some cases are now all just Facebook connections we rarely if ever talk to.  The fact is the few people who really matter are still in your life.  It’s that group of a select few (the quality relationships).that stood the test of time and you are proud to still have connections with.

The same can be said for how we look at the communities sprouting up all over the internet through various social platforms.  Why is it the same?  It’s because at the core of it all we are still dealing with people.  That has not changed. Although, the way we communicate with each other is continuously evolving. Ten, even five years ago who would have thought we could be friends with and communicate with a brand like we do now via social networks.  Relationships with both friends and brands alike are not immune to falling apart if the quality isn’t there.  The number of likes, followers, and friends doesn’t matter so much; or rather it’s not the only thing that matters.  What does matter is the richness of the relationship that you have with each of them.

People are attracted to the idea of a social network, group, community, because they bring people together.  But with all relationships (both with individuals and brands) it’s the quality of the relationships that we have that keep us coming back for more.  The communities that will be successful long term will be those focused on providing a sense of richness, value, and purpose for their members. Those communities/ brands that are wondering why business results are stagnant, customer complaints are high or people have just lost interest are still just focused on the quantity of it all.

*Photo Credit http://bostinnovation.com

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