Why We Need Peers

Untitiled by johnkoEver take a minute and think about all the people in your life? Often we recognize so few – mostly family and friends. In life, though, there are many, many people who we interact with, are influenced by, and work with.

The people we know and interact with bring so many things to our lives. What we think, how we do things, the way we learn. It’s these things that expand our horizons and allow us to grow as individuals.

Our peers are not only our friends and coworkers. They are clerks at stores we visit and buy things from. They are our mail carriers and delivery people. They are our representatives in government, and teachers in our education system.  They are leaders in business, and in faith. They are the women and men who protect our country, and help us in emergencies.

Each of the people bring something unique, something special to the mix. Knowledge, leadership, compassion, guidance, strength, or camaraderie – our peers provide all this above and beyond our friendships.

In short, our peers make up the communities we participate in, both offline and online, which give us all such great resources to do great things together. I’m grateful to have so many people in my life, and to have the privilege of learning from them and with them.

Photo credit: johnko

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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