The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Supersaturation is a chemical state where so much of one substance is dissolved into another, that the resulting solution finds itself in a precarious, or “metastable” state. By simply adding a disturbance into the solution, crystals are formed, kicking off a chain reaction that turns the liquid into a solid before your very eyes. Here is a video that demonstrates the phenomenon.

So why am I discussing chemistry experiments in a blog about New Media business communications? It’s because of yet another misuse of a social media buzzword: community–especially when used in the following context: “Come join my/our community.”

Honestly, the phrase drives me batty because it breaks a fundamental rule of Social Media by focusing more on the me than it does on the you–the customer.

“Come join my community” is a Traditional’s feeble attempt at Social Media. It’s and old-school marketing wolf in “social media” clothing, who is trying to sneak traditional marketing messages into the conversation under false pretenses.

The most successful online communities aren’t built by self-promoting invitations. They organize themselves, crystallizing like that of a jostled supersaturated liquid. They form around like-minded individuals who congregate online to talk about their passions. If those passions center on your product or service, then you have the ingredients for a community.

Instead of spending all of your time, effort, and marketing dollars on promoting a vapid online community, create an environment for supersaturation. Produce great products and services. Create content that supports the community. Find experts, inside and outside your company walls, who can speak authoritatively.

Once the ingredients start to crystallize, THEN send notifications via services like Twitter or your corporate blog. Instead of using useless phrases such as “Come join my community,” highlight the work that is being done within the community. Talk about the problems that the community is solving, recap its most interesting discussions, share time-saving tips, the caloric values of recipes, or the success stories that the community is buzzing about.

In essence, make your notification worthwhile. If I like what I see, I just may hang around for a little while.


Filed under: Social Media

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