Building a Community with Social Media

I am not certain how to measure a community today. Before social media, I could have counted business cards in my Rolodex and friends in my handwritten address book. But, no more! With electronic communications, my community may be boundless.

A New Era - Social Media
In 2003, the LinkedIn introduced a new way to communicate through social media. The fledgling concept exploded onto the scene. I was not prepared, nor ready to adopt this new means of communication.

Can you ignore so many users and the potential community social media offers?

  • LinkedIn created 2003 - 150 million users
  • Facebook created 2004 - 900 million users
  • Twitter created 2006 - 140 million users

It took a few years before I began subscribing. I started with LinkedIn in 2007. I made connections to people I already knew, but hardly used it otherwise.

At the urging of CSI friends like Charles Hendricks (much younger than me), I joined Twitter in the summer of 2009. About the same time I remember talking with Joy Davis, CSI's e-community expert, about starting a company blog. I was hesitant. Joy was encouraging, asking "Why not?"

Another Medium - Blogging
So in November 2009, SpecWords was launched. Joy was right. I saw results immediately. By end of December our website traffic increased by 50%. It was significant, even though that meant a total of 130 daily visitors on the site, miniscule in comparison to others, I am sure.

I could not quantify Twitter's impact and thought it too fleeting. The blog retained postings as searchable information. So I abandoned Twitter by year's end to devote more time to the blog and improve our website traffic even more.

Now, nearly three years later, the Conspectus website is approaching 900 daily visitors. And, except for the Tech Tips page, the blog pages are our visitors' favorite site entry pages. Web search results and RSS feeds help visitors find our information.

Today, Google Analytics helps track the effectiveness of each social media channel in driving traffic to our website. We see positive results, steadily growing traffic from social media each month, especially from Twitter.

Consequently, I favor Twitter for communications, although I have more connections on LinkedIn. Why? As Joy Davis puts it, amplification! For every message I write on Twitter, it is possible for others to retweet the message to their followers, and so on and so forth. The overall reach of some messages can be amazing.

Collateral Uses
Twitter is not just for talking with the community. I am tweeting notes about conferences and educational sessions. I abandoned hand written notes. My handwriting is not the best, and my handwritten notes are so cryptic only I could understand them. Using hashtags, I can collect all the tweets with Storify and curate them into a meaningful story to share with clients and staff after each event.

LinkedIn is helpful for finding company employees and employment history of new acquaintances. It is especially helpful as a way to keep in contact with individuals as they change employers, providing they remember to update their profile and email address.

Building A Community
One of the best ways I found to build my community is through TweetChat participation. Chats are created using hashtags (#) so related messages can be found. I can select the chats of most interest and target chats where potential clients will hang out. I selectively follow interesting individuals in the chat. When the connection is made during a chat, the following is usually reciprocal.

You may want to check these TweetChats to build your own community.
#ABlogChat - Architectural Bloggers, second Thursday of the month at 8 PM eastern
#AECSM - Architectural, Engineering & Contracting Social Media, every Tuesday 4 PM eastern
#AIAChat - AIA National with various topics, first Wednesday of the month at 2 PM eastern

Make your Own Connections
If you wish to connect you can find me here:

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidstutzman
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/david.stutzman.92
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/dstutzman and https://twitter.com/#!/conspectusinc

To connect with other CSI members on Twitter, see the list at the end of this blog: https://www.conspectusinc.com/blog/2012/03/improving-knowledge-skills-through-community.html

When you find others, let me know via Follow Friday (#FF) on Twitter. Let's build this community together.

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