My wife is from Turkey and there is a Turkish saying, usually used in reference to raising children, that goes, “It’s like digging a well with a needle.” Put more directly, it’s a long, slow process. I think this saying applies to building a community out of the wilds of today’s social media world.
I was thinking about this today because, at times, I get exasperated that I can’t grow my Spredfast (in case you didn’t know, the social media management system we built) community at a faster pace. I always have to remind myself that gradual is not a bad word. Like raising good children, you can’t do it overnight. You have to be patient, recognize the teaching moments as they present themselves, and take advantage of them when they do arrive.
Quality instead of Quantity
Sure, I’d like to have a million people “like” my Spredfast Facebook Page and have tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, but then I remember that I’d rather have 1,000 super advocates for Spredfast than 500,000 people who don’t ever talk about my product, engage with the content I produce, or give me frequent and meaningful feedback.
There are strategies to gain fans and followers fast, but I question the long term benefits of those strategies. I believe that a connection made in a personal, one on one way will have greater, more enduring benefits. I believe that someone who seeks me out to learn about Spredfast will benefit more then the person who follows me just because I followed them.
Signal instead of Noise
A lot of people struggle with the amount of information coming their way. Companies are no different, because behind the logo just a group of humans. Starting with a smaller feedback channel allows us to really take it in, make the necessary improvements to grow, and as we earn a larger feedback channel we are also better able to accept it and do something with it.
Now, I’m in the business of building tools that make it easier to take a larger feedback channel and make sense of it with fewer resources. But like the chicken and the egg, I have to be able to receive the feedback about how to make the tools better.
Cherish instead of Acknowledge
By growing slowly and surely, I have an advantage. I am able to really get to know the clients I do have. Now, nobody is perfect all of the time. Do I know every Spredfast client as well as I would like? No, but I’ll bet I know them better than Apple knows Social Agency, even though we are loyal customers.
I believe I have a shot of getting to know my clients really well. I can spend more time talking with them and getting to know their business and their needs. If I can instill that desire in every now employee Social Agency brings on, then we can scale that ability to cherish, and avoid simply acknowledging our clients.
Embrace the Long Road
So, I’ve convinced myself to keep digging with my needle. For Social Agency and Spredfast, the well gets a little deeper each day. If you’re facing the same feelings each day, feelings of wanting to suddenly find yourself under a giant pyramid of fans/followers, just remember that to build meaningful relationships, you have to be there in person, making quality connections based on real understanding and empathy.
In the full spirit of this post, I’d like feedback from those really interested in a dialogue:
- How are Social Agency and Spredfast doing in developing a relationship with you?
- Where can we improve?
- What are we doing well?
- What are your experiences in building a community?
- How have you succeeded/struggled with scaling?
Fair warning, if you answer these questions, we’re probably going to get to know each other.
Hope to talk to you soon,
P.S. Image is from AntonioVI