7 Steps to Creating an Online Community

March 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

Saturday I had the pleasure of teaching a group of students, parents, teachers and faculty from the Miamisburg Christian Academy an introductory session on Social Media. The age range in the group seemed to be about 15 to 50 (plus!). Quite honestly, I didn’t know what I was going in to. I had no idea how many of the group were proficient in social media and how many were novices. I am very comfortable teaching in a corporate environment but this was brand new territory.

1. Create a vision. In this case, I pressed them to answer the following question: “What will it look like six months from now if you find yourself very pleased and excited about your social media spaces…what is happening on your Facebook page, your Twitter page…how do you feel about what is happening?” What is your vision for how the online social aspect syncs with the offline social aspect?
2. Make sure you go all the way around the room and get input from the people who are being shy and reserved. Often, they say the most profound things. It was true in this case.
3. Make sure everyone in the group acknowledges who will be the Community Manager. The CM needs help and input, but ultimately they have to drive the ship.
4. Get buy-in from everyone in the group to support and give content to the CM.
5. Be open to the possibility of creating vertical spaces for different age groups or special interests. For example, we went into this thinking about one space on FB, one on Twitter and so on. As the meeting went on, excitement was generated around the idea of creating a uniquely separate space for the students. Why not a special FB page for the Art Department?
6. Walk away. After I saw the excitement levels building, I stepped away and let them talk without me there facilitating (a brilliant move on my part).
7. Give homework and set a date for follow-up. If you don’t establish dates and assignments, the momentum is likely to flatten.

I wish the event had been video-taped. It was electrifying, exciting, energizing. I think the most fun I had was recognizing and revealing that the students are going to be the ones who will rise up and champion the way. I suggested to the parents/teachers/faculty that instead of banishing the use of mobile devices, we have a space during the week — Friday at lunch for example — when we encourage and allow students to text, with guidelines of course. Why not give them a little room to be teenagers. They LOVE to text. Why fight change? Why not work along side them and use technology for good. One person suggested that we create a Facebook page designated JUST for the students. Cheers erupted from the two students who were present.

On the other end of the age spectrum, the adults in the room who were not as comfortable with technology as the younger people were clearly moved and inspired by what they saw and heard. At one point, U! Creative’s President, Ron Campbell, jumped up on a railing and took the photo you see above. Within seconds, it was downloaded and visible in the Facebook stream of one of the attendees. Most of us in social media are used to this kind of happening but it is still a joy to watch the faces of people who are being exposed for the first time.

Stay tuned. Keep an eye on this small, private Christian school. It will truly be interesting to see what they do with the new tools and methods of communication. I see a case study in the making!

MCA on Facebook
MCA on Twitter


Entry filed under: Oh! Social - Our 2 Cents. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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