Happy one-year anniversary to our book Building Brand Communities! It officially published 365 days ago.

What has the last year shown us about community building? A 🧵 written off the cuff:
1. Writing this book highlighted a massive divide between the work of what I will call "community opportunists" and what many of us hope to create in the world: genuine value and connection.
It is not hard to twist community principles toward extraction or manipulation. Yes, business does benefit from community. Yes, faster support response times, more sales, and increased brand awareness are all good outcomes. But a lot of people are still building harmful mirages.
2. The messy middle is where experienced community builders can aspire to operate. It can sometimes feel as though you are drowning in uncertainty and it can affect your self-esteem. A few tips and remedies:
First, remember that the messiness IS the work. You're doing it. Second, ask if you are actually listening to what is being said or if you're listening to nothing but your bruised ego. Third, don't listen to people who pontificate and have few real relationships to show.
3. No one wants to talk about the stops and starts, the manipulative leadership, the ego-stroking, the 3-year launches. Guess what? They're more normal than not. I wish more community builders would share the whole truth about what it takes, but I get it is not always safe to do.
4. We are suffering from a lack of leadership at multiple levels, and this gets reflected in our communities. My advice if you lead a community: lean into your soft parts, the parts of you that make others smile or FEEL something good. And nurture those parts of you every day.
At the end of the day, we happily return to the places where we don't have to perform to feel loved or appreciated.
Offer yourself that space first, the space where you can BE and be fully yourself and that is enough. More than enough. And then embody that as you make your way in the world and as you lead your community.

The appreciation you may seek from others is already within you.
5. An acquisition of a community is not necessarily a success. Look under the hood. How did employees feel about the community? Those they worked with? What did member retention look like? Did people feel safe? None of that will change after an acquisition; it will likely worsen.
6. This lil book has resonated with folks I never imagined: musicians, PTA members, school board leaders, political campaign strategists. These principles are durable and go far beyond startup echo chambers.
7. Too few of us are paying attention to the ethics of big data collection and online communities. Read The The Data Revolution by Rob Kitchin.
8. Build for uncertainty. Joining anything new is filled with uncertainty and we are always seeking ways to get out of those uncertain spaces. Acknowledging and reducing uncertainty (ideally with human interaction) as someone onboards *will* increase your success rate.
9. Face-to-face or video communication is NOT categorically better than text communication. Research supports this. There is also no ideal order of operations for relationship development. That's why following tips and tricks won't help you. Only theories + principles will.
10. I am deeply, heart-wrenchingly grateful to have created this book with my coauthor Charles. If you can share your hard-earned lessons and not make it all about you, then do it. It will help people far more than you will ever know.
Keep on building community, friends. I'm cheering you on every messy step of the way.

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More from @caremjo

12 Mar 20
The COVID pandemic has unleashed uncertainty. Uncertainty brings up fear. The natural human response to fear is to tighten, isolate, and lash out.

Our society expends enormous energy to get uncertainty under control, measure it, and "fix" it. But we have another option.
I've spent most of my life building online communities and know what is possible if we come together, even virtually.

In fact, research suggests that online relationships can deepen more than offline ones - & if you've watched Love Is Blind, you've seen that process occur 😝
In this time of uncertainty and fear, choose openness.

You know what to do from a health perspective; here are small social actions you can take:
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