Comment Cleanup

Who's the dick writing comments on my blog? by Scott BealeIt was overdue really.  Over 7 years on this blog and I hadn’t done a thorough review and cleanup of my comment section ever.

There were nearly 4,000 comments and, unfortunately, a very large chunk of them were duplicates and a more than I want to admit were some kind of spam comments.  The duplicates undoubtedly came from the time that I imported my comments into Disqus and then exported them back out to my blog to stand alone. I should have caught the duplicates then, but I must not have been paying attention.

The spam comments are a frustration.  They weren’t rampant, but there were a lot more than I thought there were.  Some were the passive kind of spam where they didn’t leave a link in the comment, but the name and URL they used to “log in” were certainly links to follow.  Luckily, only a handful were “lightly” inappropriate, counting them on one hand easily.

In the end, it turns out that there are just under 2,000 comments left, but they are at least valuable conversations that I had regarding posts with a number of readers and a good many friends online.  These I will treasure.

Photo credit: Scott Beale

Bringing Small Town Back

Small towns. I grew up in one, and wish many more folks had that opportunity to really get to know the people in your community. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality in our neighborhoods today, where the urban landscape seems to run unendingly into the horizon.

It was in small towns that communities were, more often than not, strong and supportive. In these small communities, people looked out for each other and most of the time made it easy for people to succeed. You relied on your neighbor because of the challenges and demands that were common to everyone.

For many of us, this kind of community didn’t exist. Or some of us started in those small communities and moved to much, much larger ones. The differences are profound and complex. Large communities tend to seem about numbers rather than people, and coming from an environment where you know everyone to one where you’re lost in the crowd can be overwhelming.

However, we’ve found another way to create unique, small communities that have tremendous value through the Internet. These innumerable, special-interest communities are not unlike small towns. They’re made up of many different individuals with wide-ranging perspectives and experiences, and they are the better for it.

I very much like to compare online communities to those small towns I speak so favorably about. Mainly because they reward the members as they participate and interact with each other. They open up new worlds of opportunity and knowledge that seem daunting at the outset, making friendships and acquaintances easier for many people lost in larger physical communities.

I see a number of small communities I belong to today, each one unique, offering something the others do not. These communities help define and direct who I am and what I do much like the small town I grew up in helped shape my world view and direction in life.

I truly hope you have great experiences with your small communities and help others to discover theirs.

Photo credit: Kodama (home)

The More You Share

'Trees In Scotland' by Andrew CrummyOne of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in the past decade of social media is the aspect of sharing. From the first time I read Cluetrain to the current place it takes in the multiple buzz word lexicon of social media – sharing is a central pillar of social engagement.

For many of us today, sharing is an easy exercise. Cut & paste a link, click a share button for a photo or embed a video in a post. We take it for granted… it’s easy!

For those getting started, or for businesses both large and small, sharing is not as clear as one would think it is. Businesses may worry about ownership of content (copyright) issues, or the context of the content they’re sharing and how it reflects or impacts their brand and reputation.

Individuals may have similar concerns, and might have trouble understanding the technical “how to’s” of proper attribution or embedding of HTML code. But that’s what the seasoned folks should be, and are, helping with – that’s a lot of what we share.

Back to sharing itself though.

As online social engagement grows with mainstream participation, people and businesses gain more from sharing than we initially realize. Giving back to the community has always been a cornerstone of corporate responsibility, and participating in online communities is easier and more cost effective than in the physical community.

Offering up tips, tricks, ideas, solutions, trials, samples, free product, services and more helps build community and reflects on individuals and brands in a positive light. Who doesn’t enjoy or respect those who are helpful? That’s not the same as giving things away simply for favors, that has it’s place in brand building, but not for community building.

Many will call it the “pay it forward” method, and indeed giving back to your community is crucial to the health of that community. It motivates others to do the same and thereby provides a basic, common knowledge to the community that benefits the whole. In the end, ideas are shared back to you or your business that you might otherwise not have thought of.  And that’s always a good thing.

Photo credit: Andrew Crummy

The Power of Communities

Free Colorful Grafitti Rainbow Street Art Drive By in Worcester Massachusetts by Pink Sherbet PhotographyInteresting thing, communities. We live in them our entire lives. Multiple ones actually, and usually are participating in more than one at any given time.

Today we think of communities more as online constructs, usually referring to a social network as a community. Of course, a community isn’t a tool, but rather a collection of people with similar interest.

The reality is that we participate in multiple communities because of the varied interests we have and the need to connect. We are social creatures and connecting with like-minded peers brings a certain satisfaction to our lives.

This is where the future of communications and marketing come together. Building communities around a brand isn’t misguided as some may suggest. Brands have always had followers, they’ve usually been called loyal customers. These customers are the ones that evangelize at the drop of a hat, and rally around their favorite brand, be it an automobile, soda, or candy bar.

These brand-specific communities existed before social media, indeed, before the Internet itself was useful to the average consumer. So building on that existing base, and providing added value to your brand’s community is the job at hand with social media. The opportunity for your brand is to make it easier for the average consumer to become a loyal customer.

Discover how the power of community can enhance your products and strengthen your brand. After all, why produce and sell something if it isn’t worth people getting excited about it in the first place.

Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography

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