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Without a Community, Your Website is Useless

Imagine if you developed subdivisions and built houses for a living. What would it be like if you built a bunch of beautiful homes complete with garages and drives, but didn’t  build the streets that connect them? How could you possibly sell all your homes and develop a thriving community if people couldn’t get in and out of their homes?

Sounds sort of crazy, huh? No one in their right mind would ever conceive building a neighborhood or developing a community that wasn’t linked with ways to get in and out. In essence, without houses being connected by sidewalks and streets, there would be no community all – just a bunch of unreachable, free-standing (and empty) homes.

Well, if your website isn’t developing a community around it, then you’re not thinking too differently than the subdivision developer who doesn’t build streets. And if you’re not building community around your website, then it’s likely your business is suffering online.

The reason is people want to belong. They want to find like-minded people with similar interests to connect with. They want to associate with other people who are in similar situations. In other words…they want community.

Nowhere is this more evident today then in the explosion of social media on the internet. What do you think the 500 billion people are doing on Facebook? And what are all these ‘tweets’ on Twitter about? Why are people using these sites in record numbers?

Because these sites allow people to connect with other people. In some cases, people with similar interest. In others, people they can learn from. And in still other cases people who can help them solve their problems – whether they’re personal, professional, health or business and so on.

Everyday the internet becomes more and more of a space for social engagement. And so should your website. Your website needs  to evolve with the changes toward a social internet or you’ll quickly watch it fall behind. Right now, this moment, sites that are socially oriented are building communities and, through those communities, growing their business. Sites that are not community-oriented are merely becoming placeholders for outdated and uninteresting content. Sorry, it’s just the fact of the matter. People don’t just want to read, they want to feel they’re connected to something. That something could (should) be you, your website, your business, etc.

So what does all this mean for you?

Basically you need to engage your target audience where they are! And right now, they’re on social media sites connecting with other people (read: other service providers).

You need to develop a website where you can engage your audience – and them you. You need to develop a web-based marketing plan where you’re actively engaging real-life people through these social spaces using these social tools. And you need to remember that business happens most easily, most often from relationships. A community, remember, is just a group of relationships – nothing more really.

As for the tools – Twitter, Facebook, Biznik, LinkedIn, etc – forget about all the hullaballoo and fancy marketing tactics. You don’t need to know any of that stuff. All you need are to know can be summed up in these two words: Listen and Engage! Listen to what people who have similar interests as you are talking about. And then, engage them in conversations. From conversations you build relationships. String together a bunch of relationships and you have a community.

Listen and engage! Listen and engage! Listen and engage. That’s it. Do this and it will change your business, your understanding of the internet and bring you into relationships with people who you have a natural affinity to. Listen…and…engage!

How are you using social media and your website to engage potential clients?

Are you listening to what they’re talking about? If so, how….if not, why not?

Let’s talk about it.

(note:  image from  Luke Chan on  Flickr,   some rights reserved)

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Comments

  1. Randy Brickhouse Sr. says:

    I agree with you about using social websites to build up my own, however, isn’t all this listening and engaging going to take up a lot of time? Exactly what can you recommend, besides what you teach in your article that we can do to help grow our website’s community, by using social media?

    Thank you and God bless.

  2. This is equivalent to saying to build a rapport with your prospective market. Looking back on how selling is done back in the days, both seller and buyer engage or interact before nailing a sale. This I think is the moral in this article. You interact with your target audience and in effect you build yourself your own community.

  3. Hi Dawud,

    I agree 100% on the benefits of Social Media. It’s the easiest and fastest way to reach out target market. However, though I believe that these Social Media Networks are a dominant force nowadays, I still have reservations if banking on them alone could do the job. Yes they would definitely drive traffic but are they really enough?

    Erin

  4. I agree with you about using social websites to build up my own, however, isn’t all this listening and engaging going to take up a lot of time? Exactly what can you recommend, besides what you teach in your article that we can do to help grow our website’s community, by using social media?

  5. Hi ! Thanks for sharing your ideas. You did a great example for showing the importance of community. Social Media Sites are a big help to promote business and to spread contacts with the same interest.

  6. Hi there… Great post here! I agree with you that social media sites nowadays is the most effective ways to build a good relationships online.. But it needs a lot of hard work and patience indeed… Thanks for this post Dawud

  7. An excellent analogy. And while building up a good community isnt’ overnight, it’s well worth the effort.

  8. I really don’t think social networking is all that it is made out to be. I think you should still invest in other avenues. Think of how many people you are not targeting because they are not involved in a social networking site.

  9. I’ve reached the same conclusion in the last few months.

    You don’t want to have just a site, but a place for people to meet and interact. That;s how you get promotion. This is why I like blogs more than sites – a lot more interactive and more potential for building communities.

  10. Using social media in our industry is tricky and getting people to constantly engage with us is difficult.

    We try it, however, and the customers we are in contact with appreciate the extra communication via these methods.

    It might not be enough, but should definitely be part of your marketing efforts.

  11. Listen and engage – sage advice for all marketers everywhere. Thanks for sharing this article – it reminded me of a few things that slipped my memory.

  12. Great analogy. A website technically may of course exist without any visitor. But without visitors or community as the author puts it, then what’s the website for? Social Media definitely could drive traffic to a website but banking on social media alone may not be enough. One must not forget the old school.

  13. You are absolutely correct. I think that far too often people throw a static website out on the net and just assume that it will bring in customers. I have personally seen a business attract more customers with facebook than their website, simply because they were engaging their customers. Thanks, great post.

  14. Great post Dawiud — I think I am FINALLY getting the message -and I admit it’s been at least two years that you have been saying this one way or another … OY

    Guess I’m finally ready to become a socia media person. I LOVE connection and community so why this has taken me so long I can’t figure — probably the technology side of it — sigh.

    Thanks again. I’m going to listen to your Monday class as soon as I get home from having a TABLE at a RAINBOW expo with Sue … onward and upward!

  15. Manila Internet Advertising says:

    Absolutely correct! To listen and engage. in order to do this you have to be observant of what other people’s wants and needs. We have to reach to them otherwise your competitors will.

  16. Do you think social community building would work for a Business to Business service model?? I don’t think our clients would have any reason to interact between them. Its a very expecific market

  17. Although I agree wih you when you say Social Media is very important, I don’t think a community is ALWAYS needed for a site.

    Ok, you need people, but when they visit your site they do it for a reason, and it may not need any interaction with any other members of the community.
    I have seen many sites that they just add forums, chats, facebook pages, and twitter streams without a need. They don’t have anything to gain from there, nor do their costumers. They would be much better of spending their time optimising conversion rates or usuability on their site.

  18. Its been a while since I last checked out your website. I have been really busy building a blog for my business. I love reading your articles on how to get a small business running. I have certainly advanced the last months and hope that the trend will continue.

    Thanks for all the great articles

  19. well just as you ve said that there is no website without a community, I would like to say that you have mentioned a very universal sort of fact. Thanks for sharing such a nice piece of post.

  20. Your advice is very helpful… I tried creating a Facebook page for my small business and I’m sure it gets me some clients!

  21. Who’s seen the movie Field of Dreams?
    If you’ve watched it, you’ll know the phrase “Build it and They Will Come”. Well, this might be true in Hollywood Movies, but definitely isn’t on the Internet!

  22. i know facebook and twitter are very important and create a lot of traffic but its hard for me to keep sending invites to my freinds..

    i feel like a spammer :(
    my clients don’t really reveal their facebook
    as most of them use it for personal uses

  23. I’ve reached the same conclusion in the last few months.

    You don’t want to have just a site, but a place for people to meet and interact. That;s how you get promotion. This is why I like blogs more than sites – a lot more interactive and more potential for building communities.

  24. Most of the people nowadays are very focused on their social media profiles because the interaction is there. You are correct that Social Media is the best way to advertise our business. Thanks for sharing us your ideas.

  25. onlmarketing18 says:

    I agree with you about using social websites to build up my own. It’s the easiest and fastest way to reach out target market. However, though I believe that these Social Media Networks are a dominant force nowadays, I still have reservations if banking on them alone could do the job.search engine marketing

  26. Very nice point. Building community helps improve lots of trust and reputation and thus quite helpful. Community is new way to show testimonials. Thanks to social networking sites like facebook and twitter which can be easily integrated and it is possible to build communities with them (like facebook fan pages)

    Even blogging platform like wordpress also has lots of plugins and tools to build community. Buddypress is one i like and used it.

  27. I am considering using one of the options from Facebook to let users engage, comment and vote etc. Only problem is this thing that I do not like the idea so much of another service hosting (and maybe owning) a valuable part of my content.

    What are your thoughts on this?

  28. Absolutely correct! Even in television, facebook, twitter and etc., are very popular. Social media is very rampant nowadays and it is one of the best ways in promoting business and gaining lots of customers. Products can be sold easily and conveniently over net transaction. Unlike in our old days, you need to interact face to face just to sell your product. Thanks for sharing this article.

  29. Fantastic post, the web is all about being social. Its a network and these work best when people are connecting in any way they can. All websites are a community in a sense as they bring people to a centralised point. The job of a website is to give what they community of visitors wants from it.

  30. Design Chester says:

    I agree that social media is massive at the moment and should be utilised. Luckily for me and my business a business still requires a personal website for credibility. I had a client recently who just wanted a one page site which had links to his social media pages. The site I was building was just for credibility.

    Nice post!

  31. Thanks for this insightful post. Very helpful in explaining what social media is about and how important interaction and audience is for any given website. Without an audience or a community, all efforts devoted to establish the website would be futile.

  32. I think social networking is not all that it is made out to be. I think you should invest in other enterprises.it’s more better than this. many people are not involved in a social networking site.that’s why we think of how many people you are not targeting.

  33. We have a website that offers toner cartridges for printers. Though our product is consumable, it takes a while for repeat orders. And the competition is cut-throat.

    We tried a forum and social media already. But we are still far from having a community to call our own.

    What can you suggest we do? To be able to keep our customers in tune with us and our products.

  34. @Jack of HP Toners :
    >What can you suggest we do? To be able to keep our customers in tune with us and our products.

    Can you try to set it the other way round ?

    To keep us in tunes with the needs of our customers …

    What problem are they trying to solve ?
    How can you help ?

  35. Really fantastic article on using social media sites to connect with your target audience. Building relationships will certainly help you build a strong community of loyal clients. Thanks for the post.

  36. Get post on social media sites. Put your site out there to normal people and if they like it then they will pass your site around.

  37. In my opinion it depends on what kind of site you have :). But overall very interesting article to read. We are also focusing more and more on a community on the Dutch site Actiecode. A community brings you returning visitors and besides that, the bigger and more enthusiastic your community gets, the less work you have in getting good and up-to-date content.

  38. Types of orchids says:

    I am now facing that problem in my site. I am planning to include a forum and a blog to increase interaction.

  39. I think people are forgetting that Twitter is a great tool for customer service as well as building up community. People use it to quickly communicate with us in public. Facebook can be used in a similar way and is fantastic as a public/open communication tool.

  40. I think that you are right! There is no point creating a website if no one will visit and use it.

  41. Using social websites is a very good idea. In a competitive business world, many businesses are doing everything they can in connecting with their clients and getting their products or services sold. I think one of the best reasons to consider social networking for your business is that it allows you to establish a personal relationship with your contacts and potential customers.

  42. When I think of using social media as part of my marketing plan, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. I really liked the focus you bring to the topic with this post: “Listen and engage.” I can do that.

  43. Hi Dawud,
    I only recently began learning and understanding the importance of the social networking aspect of marketing. I have several websites – but some of them (which sell a more-or-less 1-time sale of a specific type of product), I have not been able to figure out how or why to have customer interaction.

    In these cases, they call me, make an order, and go their way. Due to the nature of the product, they are typically unlikely to make another purchase – although in rare cases an industrial client will buy again.

    However, since starting my self development site – which is a huge passion for me- I realized that I did, indeed need to climb onto the social network train, because the very nature of such a topic and industry is people-oriented.

    I’m still building a blog around it, but that’s my next effort – because I definitely WANT to have interaction.

    Thank yo for this info, and I’m signing up to get your guidebook right now!
    Have a great day!
    :) Kath

  44. I got into a market that is VERY BROAD and full of competitors, but I figure I’m in it for the long haul so it’ll take time to build my business. Everybody has to eat, right? So I come up with a business model that caters recipes and grocery coupons to the stay at home crowd, and restaurant coupons for those who just like to eat without all the trouble of the preparation and clean up. Now, here’s where the trouble begins. EVERYBODY and their mother has already had this same idea, so the long haul looks like it’s going to be VERY LONG indeed!! Hopefully one day somebody will have some mercy on me and Stumble my site, or think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I’ll be able to finally break through that $100 quota glass ceiling that all the affiliate programs love to place on the publishers. :)

  45. Nice point, but after three years of blogging about memoirs, my traffic is gradually increasing and I’m getting some lovely compliments off line but very few comments.

    Jerry
    Memory Writers Network

  46. social media is the current buz when it comes to promoting your site or online business. Sadly many people don’t have the time or energy to invest in the world wide wide. My clients are frequently dissapointed when I tell them that the world wide web is not an online cash box that will make money for them without any kind of work, Using social media is often time consuming but worth it in the end as the results are more or less permanent when compared to traditional forms of marketing.

  47. I think not only does a website need a community but a business. Without a community of customers, suppliers and anyone else that can push a business and/or website forward, it is worthless. Businesses and websites and catalysts for communities.

  48. Quickbooks Repair says:

    Hi Dawud, I agree, But social media sharing is no less than the ultimate power in the hands of the users/consumers to make or break a brand’s reputation in the online world. As the famous saying goes; “With great power comes great responsibility” hence, a word of advice for all the online users of this power, think twice before sharing anything in social media. Thanks!!

  49. streamingsportsonline says:

    This is very true , i really like this site,very factual , without the latest technology or software we are nothing, the community will not be so impress .

  50. Excellent article. I especially like the part about people wanting to belong. Like minded people want to find other like minded people. It is the law of attraction at work.

  51. Nathan Segal says:

    What I like about blogging is the interactivity with commenting. I also use aweber as a way of building my community (lists) and creating interactivity that way. Another cool idea is to use teleseminars. I’m going to be giving my first one a week from now.

  52. Tierportrait says:

    Yes indeed..the community is the main stream of any business especially Internet based business..This is a good post. Thank you for sharing.. An Internet business may or may not succeed and it will vary on the acceptance and response of the people in the community..This is great!

  53. In any business, online or not, community is one main factor. They can be both your success and failure depending on their feedback towards your product. I agree that it is much advisable that you build an effective community first when running a business.

  54. Though what you’ve shared is a universal thought, i must say that i strongly agree of in your perspective. Yeah, a site without community is useless because the reason why site is created, is to connect people.

  55. I am agree 200% with your opinion because any business success behind community work.community are find out the way of our business make big and modified according to market.thanks for you are focus very important part of business community is the vehicle of business its go any were by a community.

  56. You’d be amazed to find out that actually there is – at least- one country where things go like this : constructors build an entire neighborhood but they don’t have the infrastructure yet! And what’s even crazier is that people actually buy those homes!

    I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but maybe websites are ok even without a community…

  57. One can build a business within a community. And oftentimes most people do not think of business at all, they are more concern on the ideas and knowledge that they are acquiring in the circle of community that they are in. From that, you are not just advertising your business, you are also exchanging some important and valuable information within the community.

  58. I agree with you if you are hard worker and make your site position good in google the already demand of you products increased day bay day and you will get good result.

  59. Joe McDermott says:

    Thanks for posting. I see this in the real estate buisness. With social networking I’m now selling houses to people I would not have met had it not been for the instant connection I have using FB.

  60. I think you should invest in other enterprises.it’s more better than this. many people are not involved in a social networking site.that’s why we think of how many people you are not targeting.

  61. Nowadays people uses social networking site.Even the non technical person knows how to join and make an ads in some of the popular website.Community is now invading internet world.

  62. I strongly agree with your statement that “Without a Community, Your Website is Useless”. This world is all about communication. Without clients, businesses will fail. With human traffic, websites will be useless too!

  63. Rent a Limousine says:

    In that era where there are numerous means of networking and advertisement .so here Using social media in our industry is tricky and getting people to constantly engage with us is difficult.

    That’s why community is required for any website for promotion.

  64. I agree with you if you are hard worker and your website have quality content then with good seo tactics your website will be at good position on google and search engines.

  65. Great post here! I agree with you that social media sites nowadays is the most effective ways to build a good relationships online..

  66. Absolutely correct! To listen and engage. in order to do this you have to be observant of what other people’s wants and needs.Thanks for info

  67. Agree! Being in the business industry means connecting to other people and letting the people in your network connect to others as well. By that we may have a good communication and even know what others have in mind, and what their wants and needs are. And engaging ourselves to social networking will be a very helpful tool to connect to people.

  68. cofee brewers says:

    In any business, online or not, community is one main factor. They can be both your success and failure depending on their feedback towards your product. I agree that it is much advisable that you build an effective community first when running a business.

  69. Jesica Wills says:

    Thanks for the article. It is really a great topic and you have stated right and I agree with you. It increases the demand of the company in the web market of the world. Thanks for sharing.

  70. this was a genuinely quality blog post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  71. Yes, I think everyone will agree on your point in this post. Every site needs readers and has to communicate with the others. I don’t think that a site can be successful without the getting any help.

  72. So….listen and engage then.

    Personally I’ve found it quite easy to build a community around a website but getting that community to interact is a whole other story.

    Many people join/sign up to websites or follow them on SM but that can often be where the story ends.

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