By michaelpace on May 25, 2011
Last week, a member of The Community Roundtable posed a great question to the group’s other community managers.
His question was “Getting the Party Started – You’re starting a new community of practice/interest. You have your initial set of invitees you’d like to engage for an old-fashioned “barn raising” to get things started. What do YOU do?”
I am so happy you used the “Getting the Party Started” analogy. The party analogy is one of the best story telling methods I have found to help other folks at Constant Contact understand how we should be interacting with community members. I always say our community is like a party for our customers, and we are the hosts. Everyone understands what it is like to be a host of a big bash. At first you need to set things up, but then as the party rages, a party member takes over the coat check and someone else runs out for more beer, etc…
Essentials for a kickass party or a community:
- Music – Music sets the tone for the party. I think this is your brand voice. You need to be clear on your brand voice, and if the community’s brand is the same, similar or a whole new, original theme.
- Food – Food is a requirement for any shindig. Like edu-taining content is for a community. You need to stock up on and lay out some quality appetizers for people to munch on. Get them started.
- Social lubricants – Just like beer, wine and tequila, interesting questions posed to your community help loosen up the fingers on the keyboard. Since you supplied the question, people feel much better about providing their thoughts as opposed your members putting themselves out there first.
- That guy/girl – Every party needs a life of the party. You need to find yours in your community, and make sure he has plenty of social lubrication and food. He/she will start their own conversations, and hopefully make some beer runs for you.
- Lampshades for that guy/girl – That guy/girl (as mentioned) before needs a lampshade so folks and community members know he/she is the life of the party, and more importantly, he/she knows he is the life of the party. Lampshades come in all forms of badges and honors.
- The uber social connector person – This is that person who knows everyone. It’s like the @jimstorer of Community for your party. This person is typically different from the Lampshade dude mentioned previously, as their superpower is knowing everyone or the right ones. You may need to look outside of your community for this influential person, or they may be right under your nose. Make sure to invite them in to provide their thoughts and recommendations. Invite them in for an online chat or to talk about their expertise as it relates to the community.
- A place people know how to get to – Every party needs a venue that people know how to get to and what’s going on there. Unluckily for most party-throwers, most companies that have a community also have a Marketing Department. Depending on your customers or prospects, you may need to provide awareness in a variety of different forms (web promotion, email, direct mail – yuck, twitter, etc…). Word of mouth is fantastic, but occasionally you need to hang some flyers on the telephone poles and bus stops.
- Games – Every party needs something for the people to do. A strong program schedule filled with great content, thought leaders, contests and sub-groups will liven up any get together.
- Prizes – If you have Games, you usually need prizes. These can be anything from something of monetary value to big ol’ pats on the back.
- Fireworks (if you are from down South) – Everyone stops what they are doing to watch fireworks, because they are eye catching, interesting and bold. You should be bold, try new things, be provocative, or at least really interesting.
Hope the analogies made some sense, and good luck!
Does anyone else have great analogies or stories to help those on the “outside” understand your business strategy or community? Is there anything else you need to get a party started or at least a rockin’ community?
Image credit: `rogferraz