The other day my daughter came home with 2 different grades. On one paper, she received a 97 and was upset that she didn’t get a 100. On the other she got a 87 — a “B+” — and was satisfied because this was a ‘hard’ class and subject.
I thought about her reaction and ours to these types of situations as well.
Are you expecting success from your social work? Are you expecting a crowd or a community?
As I talk to companies around the world, the big question that I get is: “What is the difference between just a group of people – a crowd and a community?” Sometimes the question is “How do I get a group of people to become a community, and see value in the community itself?
This question has fascinated me for a while as I myself have built communities, and have been in learn mode as well from others researching the power of a community, taking classes, reading everything I can get my hands on, and talking to lots of clients who have been successful!
My conclusions for building a great community vs just a crowd, are below. But in all cases you need to expect great things from working with your community!
- Leadership vs. Equality. The best communities have strong Community Managers who provide leadership and direction for the group. They help establish the goal of the community experience and define the business problems trying to be solved. They help develop and shape the community norm, start conversations, and listen. They attract and build the right content, stories, and subject matter expertise.. Crowds have no leadership that is stable. As such, they struggle with a defined direction and so wander and lose focus. CEMEX, the world’s largest building materials supplier, has leadership not just from a community manager, but their leadership is all the way at the very top, their CEO.
- Purpose vs. Pride. A Community is motivated by purpose. They share a goal. For instance, Dogster, the number one community for dog lovers, is driven by the love of dogs. The community states “this vibrant community is a must for any dog enthusiast!” Crowds are run by Pride. Sometimes pride of ownership not purpose.
- Engaged vs. Sporadic. A community is engaged in active discussions and sharing. They comment, debate, and share expertise. They are consistent and responsive. For example, the DeveloperWorks community, is very engaged even though they have over 4 million members. They engage though member driven topics on technology. The engagement is driven by trust in open and transparent discussion (this is what works, this doesn’t) and by perceived value. IBM has experts that are passionate about providing the best support in the industry. With the right people in the community, the value based engagement shines through as the members become community champions – internally and externally. Crowds are in and out of discussions in a sporadic way. They are not committed to the discussions but pepper themselves in and out of the discussions.
- Belong vs. Benefit. A community is powered by belonging so that they can influence. The satisfaction that they get from the community is partially that they are part of something bigger. For instance, the China Deaf Association has a community that centers around providing real-time, online sign-language interpretation to improve the lives of deaf and hearing-impaired people. This 200K member community is driven by belonging to a community of people like them. Crowds wants benefits – or rewards. Crowds like to get; Communities like to give.
- Collaboration vs. Connection. The best communities collaborate as a normal working style. They feel the value exists with more input and a diversity of debate. For example, Pepsi, a large global consumer products company, has their community focused on accelerating development and project pipelines for innovations and new products. Product innovations increase as people collaborate through discovery and expertise. Crowds want connection; Communities believe in the collective brain!
Numbers of members are not the key metric and does not equal a strong community. A Crowd Mentality is driven by the broad set of people that you have access to, not a relationship with. A community is about having passionate members that belong!