Being an early adopter

Blogger: July 2, 2003 (previous blog - May 5, 2002)
MySpace: December 2005 (I think) September 2004 (thanks Rachel!)
Facebook: May 2006
LinkedIn: July 2004
SecondLife: December 2005
Dogster: June 2004
Twitter: December 2006

A friend was giving me grief later today about my concentration on community (bc of this post) and calling me a commie (which is funny). He then said he knows I care about monetization, but that you cannot have monetization without community - one goes along with the other, and if you ignore community there is not going to be any monetization.

But, I explained to him what the deal is to me.

I have been blogging for four years - my anniversary was July 2, but I did not feel the need to make a big deal about it. I started blogging because a friend recommended it to me (for work); prior to that, I started blogging because I thought it was something cool to try out - and I realized that while friends always thought I had an interesting life and good stories, I found it boring.

But, I didn't start blogging originally for work, or because I thought it would make me famous - like other PR bloggers - but because it interested me.

Yes, I am a secret geek. Always have been.

I joined MySpace because a friend of mine recommended it to me, because she knows I like music and that I would find it interesting. I have - and keep it sorta active, with at least communicating and adding more friends when I find them there.

I joined Facebook because I was already playing around in the community about five months prior, checking it out with a friend's account and seeing what it was about, and formulating thoughts about it. Back then, I did not think much - and I still think there are problems - but the new applications are great, and I think the site has a lot of great potential to be bigger and bigger.

I joined LinkedIn because I thought it was a cool idea, and I was always open to new opportunities that I could find through the network. It helped a friend come damn close to a dream job, so it could work for me.

I joined SecondLife because Eric Rice was having a New Year's party, and he always talked it up to me. So, I had to check it out. I didn't check it out because I thought it was a great community to corrupt or use for PR. I joined because I thought it was something cool to use, and something cool to see, and something that could be fun if I wanted to geek out.

I joined Twitter prior to SXSW, because I read that it was Odeo's new service, and I liked Odeo enough - and love Blogger - to test it out and see what it was about.

You see a pattern? I join these sites out of an interest in them. Not because I am looking at it from a PR view point, but because I like to learn and see what is new out there, and to see what new communities are being formed. Hell, I was early to Orkut and Friendster as well, and see what did and did not work there. There are sites that I join to test out and try, and I forget that I am a member there.

But, this is about walking the walk, and being part of communities. There are tons of bloggers out there - and that's another thing, where I read blogs and watch podcasts to see what is being said, and out of interest - that like to talk about community, but unless it has to do with him/her, they could care less. And, that's what makes bad PR counsel: selfishness, and lack of caring or understanding of communities. And, that is what bothered me at the conference today - it needs to be about the community. You can't just expect people to come anymore, but you need to go where they are and want to be part of that community.

And, you know, the public is starting to see through that - that some bloggers don't really care about community, just themselves and their rankings, and that they are trying to use communities for their own personal and professional goals. You know why I go to BlogHer? Because it's a great event and great people and a wonderful community. And, it's that type of community that we are all looking at, and need to be involved with. You cannot rely on just pitching bloggers and hope for the best. You have to be part of the community - all communities - or you're going to fail.

Remember that the next time you are trying to force something over one community, or pitch bloggers. Think about it in their shoes, what that community might want, and then you will be more successful.

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13 comments

  1. Yes, community's awesome. But there's more to life than community. When you want to go see a movie or buy a camera or listen to the new Spoon album or catch a Giants game (SF or NY - pick a Coast for either type of elitist), you're not doing it because you're part of movie, shopping, Spoon, or Giants communities. You're doing it because it's what you want to do, and you're either doing it alone or going with your family or friend you do the stuff with all the time. You can even identify with brands like Spoon and the Giants to the point you'd want to display your association with them, but it doesn't mean you're joining this high minded community. People don't generally think on these community terms, so marketers don't need to either most of the time.

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  2. And therein lies the problem. Marketing refuses to change, and see that the world is changing to communities.

    But, yes, you do go to movies, or a game, or buy a camera because you are part of a community - a fanbase community.

    You research the purchase to see what is best, and you buy that camera - the info you get is from that enthusiast community.

    You're a baseball fan and follow it as part of that fan community.

    And, come on, no community is that high-minded. :)

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  3. Every community, even if a lot of the same people are on it, have its own flavor and feel. There's certain things you say or do on myspace that just don't belong on facebook. Things on Twitter you can say that don't really fit in anywhere else.

    I love those nuances. Bravo, fantastic post man.

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  4. Rachel Kuptz10:15 PM

    You've actually been on Myspace since 9/06/04 http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=3622987

    It lists your sign up date in the blog section.

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  5. Nice post Jeremy. Hope to see you at BlogHer.

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  6. Great post Jeremy.

    True community building must be selfless. And if you approach it with a genuine concern for the interests of the people who participate, you will in some way, sooner or later, receive in kind. But if you start out trying to tap into a community for your own purposes, people will quickly see through this.

    A group of social medeia enthusiasts started Third Monday/Third Tuesday social media communities in Ottawa and Toronto last year (yes, we were inspired by Third Tuesday.) The organizers kept self interest out of it. We made efforts to bring in great speakers that would benefit the whole community. And we opened the doors wide to all participants.

    The result? Participation grew every month. And this year, we're expanding to Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

    Proof that people want to be part of a genuine community that has no hidden or selfish agendas.

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  7. oops. Should have said, "inspired by Third THURSDAY."

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  8. Amen, Jeremy, Amen.

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  9. @joseph thornley

    That was the intent of TT here as well - no politics, no promotion, little clients. It was (and is) about learning, and always should be about sharing best practices (helping the industry grow).

    Congratulations on the growth in Canada, and when I am in Toronto, we'll meet up.

    But, yep, pure genuine community growth.

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  10. I enjoy it, too. That's why I am grooving on Pownce. Great community app. -- for me. I realize others prefer different community formats. But that's what is all about, having fun.

    Otherwise why bother? Why play in a community if you can't enjoy it? If you can work and and play in the same community then you are double lucky.

    My $.02.

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  11. You know what I love about you, jeremy? You are un-fuckwithably sincere. If more marketers and PR heads were that way, we'd have better quality communities and more enjoyable networking experiences.

    As things stand, I sit on stairs, and you take photos of feet.

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  12. @geoff

    Unfortunately, most of us in the industry don't have that viewpoint. It's not about community for too many - but about "me".

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  13. @angela

    There's a reason I love you - it's comments like that. I am pretty much resigned to the fact that we are 6 to 12 months ahead of the curve, or on another planet.

    Not sure it is in our best interest, though, to fight the good fight. Sometimes, I think we'd be better up just rolling over and playing the game. Pleh.

    But, we sit on stairs together, and so cute as well: http://flickr.com/photos/briansolis/474610577/

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