The Community Ecosystem

gathering There really aren’t many secrets to how things work in social media. There are skills to learn, and then there are human traits to re-learn. And yet, when people jump into this space and try to get results for their efforts, they’re sometimes surprised and frustrated. Sometimes, when we’re rushed, we forget the “nice” parts of things, and yet, in a community ecosystem, that’s what will drive your results. Some thoughts.

Contribute Where You Can

Brian Solis is an upstanding member of this new world. He’s been in it for almost 10 years with his forward thinking new-PR company, Future Works. When Brian comes to a gathering, he brings his monster camera and a great eye, and he snaps TONS of photos. But it’s what comes next that proves my point. Brian shares his photos on Flickr, and he shares them with Creative Commons permissions such that you can pretty much use his photos for anything, provided you give him credit.

You can contribute somewhere in the community ecosystem. Maybe it’s by sharing your photos. Maybe it’s by offering small business tips for new budding freelancers. Maybe it’s offering presentation advice. Wherever you can, offer up (for free and easily) stuff that YOU can bring to the community.

Communicate When You Can

The Zulu greet each other by saying “Sawubona,” translated literally to mean, “I see you.” It means, “I know that you’re there and I acknowledge you as another person.” The response back is, “Ngikhona,” which is literally, “I am here.”

Visiting people’s websites and/or just reading their RSS feed isn’t enough all the time. Make a point of commenting, of saying “I see you.” Sometimes (okay, often) I receive email from people saying that they don’t get any comments on their website and they wonder why they should bother. MANY people have the feeling they’re out in the wild doing nothing important. You might be contributing to this feeling by not commenting, even on occasion, on some of the places you visit.

So when you can, share a little “I see you” with the places where you interact. Because it will matter. It does come back to you. People do care.

Create What You Can

Participating, building, creating are all possible with these tools and with this way that people are seeing the landscape of work. We have the potential to be more connected to each other than ever before. And from this, we now have the opportunity to lighten the burden of others by creating things that others can use.

Some ways to create are to build things for people who don’t necessarily have the skills but you can see their need. Another way is to add value by contributing to an existing project. Other times, it’s as simple as organizing a gathering (either online or in the real world) of people with like interests, such that you can help catalyze the conversations and the shared experience. Create. Make. Do. And share.

The Community Ecosystem Isn’t About Money or Not

It’s not the question of free and hippies vs. money making capitalists. These things I’m mentioning work in both ways. You can do these things in the space where it’s just “nice,” and you can do these things in the space where the value comes back to the company in some other way. That’s not the point, because the skills required to contribute into this ecosystem are necessary in both places. In fact, they’re interchangeable.

So, how are YOU contributing? Where are you communicating? What are you creating? Come see us.

The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.

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Photo credit, Brian Solis, killer photographer

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