Which Comes First, Your Customers' Community or Yours?

Should you start a social media community or join one?Long ago, American pioneers moved west to homestead. Some traveled alone, a single family or individual. They didn’t know what lay ahead or if anyone would follow.

Others traveled in groups with more protection and support. When they arrived at their chosen land, they had an instant community.

It wasn’t long before thriving communities were popping up all over the west. The courage of the lone settlers made a path for others to follow. Before long, they were surrounded with new homesteaders seeking a new beginning.

The different approaches yielded the same result – a community of people with similar ideas and visions.

Social media is like the wild west of yesteryear.

In the early days of web 2.0, individuals jumped in without knowing if anyone would follow. They created tools, blogs, and profiles. New people started joining in. At first, it was one by one, then more, until the phenomenal growth of social media in 2009.

People from all walks of life are blogging, tweeting, and friending. It is a virtual population boom. If you haven’t joined in, it’s becoming obvious that you need to or you will lose your customers to the competition. The problem is knowing where to start.

There are three options:

1. Start a new community

2. Join an existing one

3. A combination of the above

It’s not too late to start a new community, but it requires a lot of work and resources. Think of it like this: If you decided to open a country store with a specific community as the target market, where would you build it? Would you place it in a remote area where your customers had to travel? Probably not, because doing so would require a lot of marketing and effort to get people motivated to visit.

You would build your store in the community you want to serve. (Preferably, in most populated area with the best traffic.) I know this because you are smart and know that the easier you make it for customers to find you and buy stuff, the more they buy.

But sometimes, it makes good business sense to create an exclusive community. It gives you autonomy and differentiates your company from the competition. If this matches your objectives, you still want to establish your presence in the communities where your customers live. (Remember? Easy = More) Then when your customers come to visit, you can escort them to the main attraction.

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