What Groucho Marx Taught Me About Community

By: Guest | May 31, 2011 | 

Jack has been writing for print and web publications for more than 20 years, covering a wide range of topics including: Business, technology, parenting, politics, education, sports, and religion.

My computer ate what could have been the greatest guest post ever written for Spin Sucks. It was the sort of post that was better than Muellerific. It is no exaggeration to say that when it was lost, the angels wept and for a brief moment Lucifer lay down his pitchfork and bowed his head.

I know, some of you think that I am engaged in a bit of hyperbole. You wonder how I could say that it was the blogging equivalent of stealing fire from the gods and I shrug my shoulders. Instead of providing you with The Fast Times At Ridgemont High Guide To Time Management that I was planing to do, I’ll have to share something slightly different with you.

When my clients ask me to sum up my social media philosophy I share the following two quotes:

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.”Groucho Marx

I don’t love them because I am irreverent and/or because they cater to my insouciant nature. I love them because they tell you what it is we should be doing in the blogosphere.

Be honest. Be authentic. Be transparent. Engage, interact, and engage some more. And most importantly, give back to others in an honest way.

You can call me unconventional but I believe in Building Your Community Around You.

The value proposition of your business is not your price or your quality. It is your people and the community that you build around you. If you compare your products to your competitor, I’d be willing to bet it will be difficult to differentiate on price or quality.

To motivate your customers to come see you, and to patronize your business, you build your community. You use the tools available (social media included) to show people who you are and to gather them around you.

Emerson’s comment is a reminder to open a dialogue with people, not to talk at them. The call-to-action is to invite people to engage and make them feel like you aren’t operating some cold corporate beast. It is about building community and asking them to feel like they can offer advice and/or criticism.

That is precisely where Groucho comes in. There is a method to the madness and sense in the slapstick. If you build your community around you, they will respond to your call to action. If you build your community around you, they will work with you to support and care for those within it.

Last but certainly not least: Never, ever forget to back up your work.  🙂

Jack has a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from California State University at Northridge. He has been writing for print and web publications for more than 20 years, covering a wide range of topics including: business, technology, parenting, politics, education, sports,  and religion. You read his blog TheJackB.