At the weekend I got my copy of Rich Millington‘s new book, Buzzing Communities, through the post. It’s excellent and provides everything you need to know about building successful online communities.
Thinking seriously about community building is something that I think digital engagement efforts in government and beyond are lacking a lot of the time. In many ways, I think it is the secret sauce that will take online engagement to the next level.
One of the key parts of this is a platform-agnostic mindset. Whether your efforts at building a community work or not is unlikely going to be down to your decisions on technology (unless your decisions are really bad of course). Instead, community management is a set of skills with which you start a small community and build it up by encouraging activity, fostering conversations and meeting the needs of members.
No matter whether your chosen medium is a forum, a blog, a Facebook page or even just a Twitter feed, you can use community management techniques to foster engagement and encourage people to stay involved.
So, I thoroughly recommend Rich’s book. While you’re at it, here are some free bits he has made available too:
CIOs Brainstorm About Government 2.0: Good Ideas But Not Bold Enough – "So, why do government people insist to “build something” with web 2.0 rather than realizing that in most cases people self-organize and select the channel they want to use or the community they want to belong to? Why do they focus so much on “citizens” and so little on “employees”?"
W3 Total Cache – "The fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin. "
Social on the Outside needs Social Business on the Inside :: Blog :: Headshift – "The focus of my talk was the idea that hanging shiny social media baubles on the cold, hard external walls of a corporate organisation runs the risk of creating a false brand promise unless this work has strong internal underpinnings in the form of social business structures that can do something about the noise, insights and feedback that outbound communications generate."
Web 2.0 training materials – A fantastic resource from the Scottish Government Library Services. Great material, and a wonderful example of sharing.
MIT TechTV – The Future of Government/Citizen Engagement – "From the Mayor of Newark's tweets to the President's online town halls, technology has already changed how the public engages with their government. In a world of ubiquitous broadband, this interaction can radically change how government operates and develops policy. This panel will explore how broadband can transform government/citizen engagement."
Local by Social – "This document outlines how local authorities can use social media to achieve more for less. It also highlights the risk to councils if they ignore the technological advances of social media and the people using them."
Google Apps Marketplace – “The Google Apps Marketplace offers products and services designed for Google users, including installable apps that integrate directly with Google Apps.”
Google Reader – Play – “elcome to Google Reader Play, a fun, fast way to browse the most interesting stuff on the web, personalized just for you. We’ll keep track of the things you star, like, or share, and we’ll show you more stuff you’ll like the next time you use Reader Play.”