Monday, November 10, 2008

Community: it's not just for politicians anymore.

So much of the “noise” about connecting with people online focuses on having too many online friends (FaceBook and Twitter in particular).  The point being missed: we are all moving into an era were each of us have a “community” to manage. 

In person, natural filtering takes place: at a high school reunion, for example, we make connections only to a small number of people at a time, few connections “pile up” and very little happens simultaneously. Online, information that inbound us has no natural limits  to it. We have to be the filter—others will not filter themselves for us.

Community is coming at us every day, in our email and phone messages. We need to change our mindset from one-to-one to community-to-one and one-to-community.

Admittedly, online tools to help us filter our communities are still in their infancy. You have to seek out filters—they don't make themselves known automatically, nor is using them always intuitive. On FaceBook you can put friends into friend list groups, select a friend list, then select “recently updated” to check in on that part of your community. In Twitter you can download and use TweetDeck in much the same way. Feed tools feed tools such as Yahoo! Pipes can be used to help you filter your community by topic as well.

If you follow many thousands on Twitter and concentrate only on your DM and @ inbound streams you are just using another kind of IM tool. But the community is still there. zeFrank recently asked his community “Where were you and what were you doing when Obama was elected president?” Managing the inbound side of a large community is always a challenge, but one worth having.

How do you interact with your community?

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