I’m no stranger to online communities. I’ve belonged to them since yahoo groups were about the coolest thing since sliced bread (no offense to Yahoo or the groups, it’s an example) but let’s face it; online communities and social networking have come a long way. It seems like eons since I made my first post on a message board or forum.
All those years of participating paid off for me when I became part of Clubmom (now Cafemom). I got the chance to learn social networking inside and out. I discovered how to write a good post (before blogs were mainstream), get people talking, and work as a team to make the community a success. The other moderators became family to me and I’ve never forgotten the lessons we learned and taught each other about growing a community, friendship, and social networking.
In the last couple of years, I’ve started putting that knowledge to good use. I’ve spoken with other community leaders and websites about how to build a strong community. I’ve worked as the Chief Mom Officer with Babyspot.com, helping them to get their community off the ground and I’ll soon be working with another as well (more about that later!) Through all of that time though, there seems to be one major rule that everyone seems to be missing about social networking and communities and that’s if you aren’t spending time to build the community, no one else will either. Your members will disappear faster than fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in a room full of Kindergartners.
Companies today think that they can cash in on the online community trend and social networks by putting together a site with some amazing features and custom tools.
Well, you can. And you can’t. [Read more…]