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Ideas From Formula 1 Friends-Finding Your Community in Social Media

In the world of social media, there is a lot of talk about connections and engagement. It can be daunting to learn the best practices of each site and identifying who you are “supposed” to connect with. And then there are questions about why you are engaging in social media. Lois Martin of Lois Martin Marketing took a different approach to connecting with others and shared her wisdom with us on our Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. To begin the conversation, Lois wrote this framing post, “The Entrepreneur’s Toolbox: Finding Your Community in Social Media”

Lois Martin

Allow me to introduced you to our guest host-Lois Martin has worked in advertising, marketing and public relations throughout her career and opened her own firm in Atlanta in 2008. Her clients include financial and professional services firms, retailers, authors, distributors and motorsports teams. In addition to developing and managing campaigns and training sales teams, she helps clients effectively use social media. An avid writer and blogger, Lois develops content for companies and enjoys sharing business and personal insights through her own blog at www.LoisMarketing.com. In addition she is on the editorial staff of Formula 1 Blog (www.formula1blog.com) and host of the weekly #F1Chat for Formula 1 fans on Twitter.

We talked about “Ideas From Formula 1 Friends: Finding Your Community in Social Media” and you can learn more about all of the side threads and the full conversation here in the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – IdeasFromF1FriendsFindingCommunityInSM

We began our conversation by asking, When choosing a community, how do you connect with the individuals in groups? This may seem like a basic question but keep in mind that different groups have their own norms and, occasionally, there can be cross-cultural considerations. Since Lois is the host for the Twitter chat, #F1Chat, she has met several people that have resulted in personal and professional relationships. As a model for our #kaizenblog conversation, she used examples from her chat. She commented, “Q1 What’s worked so well in our community is that we share a genuine interest in the sport and it’s non-business. It’s a nice break in the day and by chatting about a more personal interest it’s easier to to begin to get to know ea other/form bond.” One of Lois’ points during the chat was to include your interests and hobbies when you are choosing a community. This makes it easier to develop that marketing truism about “know, like and trust” as well as friendships.

  • Patrick Prothe “Re: Q1 – First by listening, getting to know their interests, pains and finding ways to offer value”
  • Ken Rosen “Q1 Existing communities certainly have a flow. Learning that first is natural EQ on or off line”
  • Debra Leitl “A1: We look for communities where we can answer online marketing questions.”
  • Judy Gombita “A1 It’s important to recognize not all members of community want to be “active” and share lots of info, esp. in early days”

Judy’s comment sparked an interesting side thread about lurkers (an awful word for someone who is ‘listening’ to a conversation within social media). Patrick Prothe shared a statistic that 95% of participants are lurking. The consensus for this side thread was to invite but not force people to join in when they are ready. This certainly makes sense as we can send private messages or emails to someone we want to know more about or simply share what we’ve learned with others.

What interests or hobbies would you like to share and explore with others? Lois shared with us a brief explanation that she is a Formula 1 racing fan. Her interest led to developing the #F1Chat and the participants have created a community as a result. She also reminded us “Q2 Think abt how biz is conducted on golf course. Same premise — deeper connections may be formed thru a shared interest.” Amber Cleveland offered a great example, “A2 I’m open to sharing many interests/hobbies like reading, social media, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, wine, shopping…”

Since we have a number of non-US participants in our #kaizenblog community, I got curious about how engage with people in other countries through social media. I tweeted, “It’s not ususual to have participants outside of US participate in #kaizenblog. How does that affect convos?” Lois responded, “I have won and referred biz opps outside of US. PR and marketing projects went well via e-communication and Skype”

  • kerriereio “How 2 connect w/ppl in other countries: go where they go online…invest in them and try to understand them before you try to make them understand you!”
  • Chanelle Schneider “I think the dominant group tends to forget that certain words/phrases don’t have the same meaning”
  • Shashi Bellamkonda “Twitter is a great way to connect to bloggers from other countries”

To illustrate more clearly what finding your community could look like, we asked What are your success stories? Lois used herself as an example, “Q3 Sponsor as well as team management connection for the racing drivers I represent, plus addl biz opps for me and my firm”

  • David McGraw “A3: I am a success story. I lurked. I contributed w/o engagement. I changed the way I participated. Got more precise w/ lang.”
  • kerriereio “My success story is how I’ve met @LoisMarketing @StatesmanF1 @F1UnitedStates and grown @austingrandprix in 6 short months!”
  • Amy Canada “Q3 I am also a success story of #blogchat; when new, others welcomed me warmly. I learned from them & repeated”

To end the conversation, we wanted to know what sorts of resources or advice people need to find their own communities. So who would you like to reach and really get to know? Lois added, “Specific is good. Are there key influencers, authors, famous personalities, industry experts you’d like to meet? I’ve always felt the most effective in-person networking is to be specific — ‘I would like intro to…’ same as SM”

  • Judy Gombita “A4. I want to reach and really get to know people who AREN’T like me. Goodbye bubbles and echo-chambers in communities”
  • David McGraw “Honestly the lurkers in my tweet/blog stream”

It can be easy to overlook the simple ways to connect with people when we are thinking about our area of expertise. Lois provided us with a comfortable model that enables us to imagine the “who”, “what”, and “why of the communities we find in social media.

How do you answer the discussion questions?

What do you wish you knew more about?

 

 

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Is Community Involvement Good For Your Business?

Conventional wisdom says, “definitely, yes” because it will help build your business. But with any kind of conventional wisdom, it is important to stop and think about what community involvement means to you. Like any other activity your business engages in, some strategic thinking will help in the long run.

Just for a start, do you want to get involved? When running a small business, there are so many demands on our time, money, even on ourselves. It is easy to feel drained and overwhelmed. Getting involved as a business person is different than getting involved as an ordinary citizen. Your actions and opinions are under a different lens so there are times when you have to be conscious of your behavior.

So how do you want to get involved? With so many of us engaging in both social networking and in-person networking, our communities can be local, national, international, or virtual.  Most of the entrepreneurs I coach have a sense of mission and want to create a values-based business. They often speak of what they will do someday when they are “big enough.” The thing is what if you keep changing the definition of what “big enough” looks like? Participation can be small as in a one-off donation or it can be that you take on a integral role in the organization.

You could get involved at the group level.  At a recent chapter event for the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Big Sister Organization received a donation. Every year, the chapter president chooses a charity to benefit and the chapter raises money through raffle prizes at each event. Just by buying one raffle ticket, business owners were able to assist an organization that makes a difference in the community.

You could get involved at your individual level. Volunteer for an organization, become a board member, or even start an organization. For example, Danny Brown (@dannybrown) started 12 for 12k with the goal to raise $12,000 each month for 12 charities. Ellie Anbinder started  Art beCAUSE to fund research dedicated to eradicating the environmental causes of breast cancer. Each year, her organization is able to “Seed the Scientist” with money that furthers our understanding of how substances in our environment can affect women’s (and men’s) breast health. While you do not have to start your own foundation, getting involved in something you believe in is crucial. What changes do you want to make in your community? As a volunteer board member of NAWBO Boston, I want women business owners to build successful, powerful businesses. You define your community. Do you want to reduce hunger? Unemployment? Improve literacy? Keep kids out of trouble?

So, now we come to What’s In It For My Business? Determining the kind of impact your community involvement you desire for your business is a key piece. Many of us have seen signs at Little League games for local retailers and business owners. For them, their name becomes easy to remember and you are more likely to go to that local pizza shop, that lawyer, or that hardware store. Others are looking to demonstrate how socially responsible they are so you make a value-based decision to buy their product or service. Another benefit to community involvement is accessibility to other business owners and customers/clients who are more likely to naturally do business with you.

I asked Danny Brown to explain what impact 12 for 12k has had on his business.  He explained that, “It’s had a wonderful two-fold effect. It’s put me in touch with other business owners of the same mindset that wish to collaborate on projects; and it’s made companies aware that social equity can also equal profits. I’ve had seven new clients take me onboard to help them with both cause marketing and general community building work. So I think social equity is definitely a great business tool, as long as it’s genuine in its use.”

What are your motivations? This last question completes your strategic thinking about why you would engage in community involvement. If the value of service is an important one to you, donating your time, talent, or treasure in some form becomes just part of who you are. But as you cannot give to everyone and there are problems in the world that you want to stop, it is necessary to consider why you want to get involved as a business owner/entrepreneur versus a private person. Expectations, desire for power, desire for a legacy, or even your spiritual practice play into your decisions. In the end, know why you want to get involved and know how deeply you want to get involved.

Some other sites that focus entirely on this topic are:

www.selfishgiving.com

www.businessgivingstrategies.com

There are some excellent discussions on philosophies of community involvement as well as information on what different roles are available.

So, what do you have to say about community involvement?

Do you know why it would be good/bad for your business What are your expectations?

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