Given a choice between selling Online, Community or Management, we’ll pick online. We can dazzle potential clients with cool new tools. It’s a big mistake, and one that reflects how we see our work.
In Online Community Management, online is just a location. Community Management can happen on the street, in coffee shops or at mac-world expos. But we love online, we talk and spend far more time discovering everything we can about ‘online’ than Community Management.
This is because ‘community’ is boring.
Would you rather play around with a new tool that links photo-tagging with Twitter, or would you rather read the latest research on how groups form? Or read a book about how people become isolated and estranged from groups? Or how culture is changing?
How about Management? Some people take a great crack at it, but we’re still well behind on the management frontier. What’s new about management and leadership of communities? How is leadership changing? What styles work best with different sorts of groups? How do you handle trouble-makers or splinters in the group? What age should you consider becoming a manager?
This is really important stuff, it will replace online as the sizzle that sells the steak.
By focusing on technology we’re reducing our value. Technology is always becoming easier to use and understand. So it shouldn’t be our selling point. Instead, we need to be sociology and leadership geniuses. By becoming experts at creating communities (online or offline), evangelizing and managing them, then we’re embracing change for the better.