When you begin formulating the plan for your use of social technology in your business, the perspective shifts to that of your customers and stakeholders (or employees, for internal social platforms). This will almost always raise the question of using an existing social object something your customers are already collecting around as a starting point in your own program. And well it should: Creating a social presence is more about participation in something larger than your own brand, and less about building yet another website and then expecting your customers to come to you. On the plus side, those who find relevance in a specific social object will naturally congregate around it and talk about it. That’s great, because it means you don’t have to build that community satisfactorily. The very commencing action which anyone can accomplish with an effective listening program is therefore to create an inventory of the communities and community activities that already exist, and around which your customers or constituents are already gathering. Also, because the social object has been established by the community members, the social object itself, along with the community around it, has a life if its own.
Of course, with an existing community or online interest group built around, for example, a lifestyle, passion, or cause-related social object turns in to a challenge: That challenge is connecting it to your brand, product, or service and building a visible, durable link between that object and your business. Again, this means looking very specifically at the way in which whatever it is that you do or offer makes your customers’ participation around the existing social object better, from their perspective. This kind of reflection and planning leads right into successfully building a business presence around a social object: You (meaning, your professional self, your business, or your organization) become an actual, identifiable participant that is valued because of the enhanced experience your presence brings to the party.