If the past few days have taught us anything, it’s surely about the real meaning about community.
And for a word that is so regularly and so freely used in a social media / online marketing sense, I think it’s time those of us in those industries sat up and took notice.
We’re reminded that community is not about a group of people who ‘like’ or join or subscribe to something.
It’s about deeds, not words or clicks.
What really defines community, as we’ve been reminded, is where people take action – with each other and for each other. Social media can certainly help this, as with the #riotcleanup hashtag and handle, and the efforts of people like Katie Khan, who have used their Twitter reach to galvanise people to help others. But with all of this comes action – offline, hands-dirty, taking-time-out action.
It’s nothing we don’t already know in our heart of hearts, but perhaps it’s time to redefine ‘community’ for our professional purposes and give the word the resonance and meaning it deserves. Time to stop letting ourselves or our clients believe that it’s all about the numbers. Thousands of ‘likes’ might seem impressive yet in reality be pretty impotent, but where we have even a small core of people willing to take action (with and for each other) is where you can honestly start to talk about a community in the most genuine and meaningful sense.
These are just my idle lunchtime opinions, of course. What do you think? Do we define and measure community well enough? Do we even really know what it means? Answers on a postcard… or in the comments box.
Be kind to each other, people.