Building Online Communities: Even When You’re Out – You’re In!!

Posted on March 18, 2010. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

PSNJ4CT528RW – This post is about starting business and personal relationships online. The accompanying tune is Person to Person – a blues played by Julian “Cannonball” Adderly and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson about one man’s need to connect one-to-one – regardless of technology, the phone in this case.

 A couple of nights ago I was reading a bunch of posts from people in my professional Twitter community who were at South by Southwest. This is a big time gathering of Internet marketing, social media, technology, and brand people in Austin, Texas that gets lots of attention in the online marketing world.

I couldn’t attend because of client commitments. But I followed the ramp up and the event via its Twitter hashtag #SXSW. For those new to Twitter and similar sites, a hashtag is the tracking device by which you can follow conversations about certain topics by agreed upon keywords – the topic preceded by a # sign – dubbed a hashtag. These often happen spontaneously.

To tell you the truth, it sounded like so much fun to be at SXSW, that I was feeling a bit blue. I was following tweets from workshops offering breaking news to karaoke bars and other social spots where people were just connecting and having fun.

I thought to myself, “I wonder if there’s a group of people like me – a Not at SXSW group.” So I created a logical hashtag – #notatSXSW – and put out a tweet:

@elliebpr #notatSXSW Loving all the posts from #SXSW but wish I were there. Anyone else not at sxsw?? Help me out here. Let’s party!

Within a minute I received a reply from @joshuakhersh who was with a group of social media-ites in Chicago. I’m in the NY metro. They had adopted the same hashtag and were partying away to mirror the experiences of their colleagues who were in Austin.

We had a very fun exchange, and connected to one another as we might not have otherwise. We’re following each other now on social media and have all expanded our networks around this shared experience.

This is really the lesson of social media. Search around for people who understand your needs and experiences. You can plug in search terms all over the web to find these folks. Then just reach out. You start out right away with something in common that you can talk – and often laugh about — together. From there it’s easy to build relationships that can lead to all kinds of collaborations.

One woman who weighed in on the #notatsxsw thing – @lulugrimm – picked up on my Twitter profile a mention of my leisure time pursuits on the back of a Harley Davidson. Turns out that she has also ridden motorcycles and so we have that shared connection as well. She is in Minnesota and I’m going to direct-message her on Twitter tonight to be sure she’s not in harm’s way from the potential Red River flood. I was concerned about her as I listened to the news reports about that today. The social web is a very personal place!!

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