Harnessing the power of online communities
In some ways, it makes sense to disconnect Unramble the business from me as a person. But the reality is, much of Unramble’s ethos grew from my core beliefs.
I’ll never be comfortable doing this job just for the money.
I believe it’s important to do business in a way that makes you feel good: to be kind, to be helpful, to create original things you believe in, to ask yourself, “Does this thing make the world a little better?” and to work with people because they’re also trying to good in the world.
Individuals in a community aren’t out for themselves. Their purpose is to advance the community as a whole.
What is community?
There are lots of different ways you can define community – both factual and a bit more abstract. For a factual definition, I like the ecological one:
“A group of interdependent animals growing or living together in natural conditions or occupying a specified habitat.”
Communities are where you find your people and grow together. They give you a sense of belonging. Professionally, your communities are likely to include people with similar and complementary skills.
You can turn to your communities for advice, knowledge and help. Everyone supports each other – contributing to the development of each individual and therefore the entire community.
But I’m also a small part of the local community of Brighton where I live, shop, eat out, attend events and meet with clients.
Advantages of online communities
Professional communities often have significant presence online. You can interact using social media, Slack, email, websites and pretty much any other digital channel you can think of.
And because they’re online, you can reach people you wouldn’t necessarily be able to reach offline. Without leaving your desk, you can find people across the other side of the city, country, or even world with relevant interests.
The nature of online communities and how they interact also makes it easier to share your ideas and content.
They give you a greater reach – allowing you to share content with more people.
And because online communities tend to fit a specific demographic, you can share content in a targeted way.
So if you choose the right communities to interact with, you’ll end up with a large, highly engaged audience.
As people in your communities become increasingly familiar with the good work you’re doing, they’re more likely to share your content for you. They’ll promote you on your behalf – just as you would do for them.
How to find your online community
If you’re not already part of any online communities, it’s never too late to get involved.
Looking to engage with a specific audience? You’ll need to research where they hang out online.
To start getting involved, you can try:
- Commenting on blogs you read
- Answering questions on the WordPress.org support forum
- Writing an article on Medium
- Getting involved in a conversation on Reddit
- Joining an interesting group on Slack
- Following and interacting with relevant people on Twitter
- Taking part in a Twitter chat
- Contributing to your industry’s LinkedIn groups
And if you can’t find the online community for you, there’s always the option of creating your own.
Don’t hang about on the side line, worrying whether people will be interested in what you have to say. Go ahead, jump into a new community – you never know where it will lead.