Arment Dietrich

Managing An Online Community

By: Arment Dietrich | July 7, 2010 | 
40

Well, I’m three weeks into my job here as community manager of Spin Sucks. It’s an exciting position that brings new interactions with different people every day. It’s so much fun playing in the sandbox with you all that it doesn’t feel like a job at all!

As I continue to wrap my head around what exactly it means to “manage” an online community and what/who Spin Sucks’ community consists of, I’ve looked at many other sites for comparison and contrast.

One simple observation I’ve made is that there are generally two elements that motivate people to keep coming back to a site, ostensibly becoming part of that site’s community. Those two basic elements are: Information and interaction.

I’ve recently spoken with several colleagues at national and international corporations who have been charged with the task of formulating a social media plan. These colleagues have little to no experience within the social media space, but they’re young, so these corporations figure they must know something about it through osmosis, I guess.

So, taking their best shot, my friends, being the extremely intelligent marketers that they are, conjure up their best image of what social media is “about.” Instinctively, they know it’s about interaction. And, yes, interaction is naturally part of “social” media. One-to-one communication is what it’s founded upon.

At Spin Sucks we have a passion for truly getting to know the individuals who make up our community. Business aside, many of them have become great friends. Of course, we all like to support our friends, but just because my friend works at a good restaurant, doesn’t mean I’m going to eat there every day.

There has to be something more. You absolutely must provide your community with useful information. Not just interesting tidbits or funny anecdotes. Real information. Information they can apply to their lives and to their businesses to achieve success.

I get the feeling from my colleagues that the corporations they work for don’t get this part of community building. They tell their readers how environmentally friendly their new headquarters are or how they’re donating money back to the community.

That’s all fine and good, but it’s not going to keep me coming back to your blog again and again. Give me solid information that I can use and can’t find anywhere else. If I read two or three posts with that type of content, I’m interested. If I get that along with some genuine interaction, I’m now a loyal member of your community.

It’s the dedication to sharing practical information in a fun, supportive environment day in and day out that convinced me that Gini Dietrich was the right person to work for and that community manager of Spin Sucks was the right job for me.

And that’s why my mission is not just to interact in a positive way with all of our amazing community members, but also to cultivate more and better content for you to learn from. Already you’ve seen solid posts from industry experts Patrick Reyes, Courtney Dial, Jon Buscall, Paige Worthy, and Arik Hanson. And there’s a whole lot more where that came from, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, what do YOU think are the keys to building community online? Also, what types of information are you most interested in reading about here?

Daniel Hindin is community manager at Spin Sucks as well as a student in the Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School, where he’s managing director of the program’s student-run blog, Vitamin IMC. His greatest aspiration is to become Mayor of Arment Dietrich on Foursquare.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not going to happen, but you keep dreaming! I will ALWAYS be Mayor of Arment Dietrich! Bwa ha haaaa!

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