Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Win Friends, and Monetize Online Communities!

Community-guru Jake McKee found this gem of a description for the book Smart Start-Ups: How Entrepreneurs and Corporations Can Profit by Starting Online Communities:
In Smart Start-Ups, angel capitalist David Silver explores the moneymaking opportunities to be found in the new online and mobile communities. Social networking software is more than just a way to meet new people; it’s also a business modeling opportunity that will make tens of thousands of people mega-millionaires. This book examines this new social phenomenon from an entrepreneurial standpoint. Entrepreneurs can make fortunes by creating online and mobile communities for niche and target audiences.

Now let's examine this 'new social phenomenon' from a reality standpoint. Online communities form when like-minded individuals come together to share and exchange ideas with each other. They have shared interests, and shared passions.

Hint: Helping you make money off them is NOT what excites these communities.

What excites customers is when you COMMUNICATE with them, when you EMPOWER them to SHARE control over your marketing message, thus giving them a sense of OWNERSHIP in your brand.

THAT is exciting. To the customers, of course. It scares the living hell out of most companies. Companies that have for decades aimed a one-channel marketing message at their customers, aren't too receptive to the idea of making that a two-way CONVERSATION.

If you want to create an online community that will willingly sing your praises, then you have to give your customers something more substantial than the chance to make you money. You have to give them respect, control, empowerment, and a voice. Then they'll let you know if they want to have anything to do with you.

You get what you pay for, and having a company and culture and message that excites people, costs more than $20 through Amazon.

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Anonymous said...

This sounds like some of the .com thinking that tried to turn eyeballs into dollars.

Authentic communities do create naturally occurring markets but book description sounds like anything but the creation of an authentic community.

Always good to read your passionate defense community.

Keep creating,

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what you said. I was too slimed out to expand much on my reaction to this cheese.

My guess is that the author probably understands enough about how communities work to write effectively about them... but has lost his way and turned to the dark side. :)


Anonymous said...


Sounds like Jake has found a way to make money off social networking: create at least one BS message that will undermine communities and set entrepreneurs up for failure.

Mack Collier said...

Lewis to be clear, Jake McKee FOUND the book's description, and posted about it. I can't remember who the book's author was, and quite frankly don't want to look it up for fear of giving him additional exposure.

But Jake is one of the good guys, if you haven't checked out his blog, give it a try!