Social Media Guide to Online Communities


Let me set the stage… picture a cocktail party…

The guest list is a pretty special one, it’s all your existing and potential customers.  Some have already heard about you – perhaps it was on TV or the billboards – but you’ve never spoken before. Some of them you’ve already had the pleasure of meeting, you think they like you, but can’t be sure.

pride and prejudice 2005 pride and prejudice gif

You’ve come alone, and it’s pretty awkward.

Determined, you wrench yourself away from the sausage platters and uncomfortably head towards a group of guests deep in conversation.


There’s a few ways this scenario will play out:

a) You stand awkwardly at the fringes of the group too shy to make an introduction, then laugh at one of the jokes but all that comes out is a prepubescent squeak. After twenty minutes you decide to call it a night. You probably won’t come back, the whole ordeal was uncomfortable and they obviously don’t want to speak to you.

b) You interrupt the conversation and chime in with an introduction “Hey I’m a Brand and I sell products”, everyone stares at you blankly and then reluctantly accepts your ill-placed high-five. You notice the group starts to dissipate, they’re being polite, but really dude you’re creeping everyone out (OTT much!). Oblivious you move on to the next group or cling on to one unfortunate soul who is now seething inside that he even came to the event.

c) You join the conversation, adding that you’d overheard them talking about travel to Malta and read this amazing article about the country a few months back, you can share it with them later. They smile and hold out a handshake. You end up staying for most of the night and a few of the guests mention another gathering happening next week – they’d love to have you along.

[Social media, as in life, is the art of understanding, relating to and connecting with people.]


Now tell me, which approach will have the most impact? Most marketers have been taught how to talk the talk but the real way to win your tribe online isn’t by advertising to them, by bullshitting them, or trying to push celebrity spokespeople and technology in their face. Social media, as in life, is the art of understanding, relating to and connecting with people.


But What If We’re Not Party People?

You don’t have to be the school jock to be in to win – you just have to be the rockstar in your particular niche. Nick Burcher’s nine party-crashing concepts are a good place to start:

  1. Know why you are going before you get there
  2. Think about the sort of entrance you want to make (quiet or loud)
  3. Respect the host
  4. Be helpful and useful
  5. Don’t stand in the corner expecting people to come to you
  6. Slowly get to know the attendees one by one
  7. Engage in conversation
  8. Stay for the evening, not just the first five minutes
  9. Aim to be invited next time!

Remember: as any good guest you need to stop talking about yourself! It’s not that customers aren’t impressed with your witty marketing moniker, it’s that — oh, you got me, I’m lying. They aren’t impressed.

So leave the mediocratic claptrap at the door and be honest, open, and useful and you’ll soon become that person that everyone wants at their party.

Main image by The Turtleneck Club