On Monday, I spoke at Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies in Boston. The conference is "for business managers seeking real-life stories of how to leverage social media for real results," so it is of a strategic rather than technical bent.
My talk, Why Build When You Can Join! Developer Communities: Who? Where? How?, was part of the Primer track, "joining the Conversation." It included talks from CurrentTV, CareerBuilder, BestBuy, and others.
One of my favorite presentations, from ex-Yahoo! Mario Anima, focused on how Current TV brings their viewers into the club, so to speak. Current TV allows them to really interact with the talent and turns fans into community members.
The Primer track was intended to bring folks who are not social-savvy up-to-speed on the current trends in social media. However, I found the the bulk of the attendees of this track were actually more knowledgeable than I expected, and was glad that my talk wasnt a basic introduction to social media — they were clearly beyond that level of understanding.
My talk focused on whether or not it is preferable to join existing communities or to build your own. While many community managers are given the directive to build one onsite, it can be easier and more effective to find existing communities to join.
Most community managers understand this, but getting buy-in from decision makers can be difficult. Thats why its important to make a case for the best option, and clearly show how much time and money can be expended unnecessarily by building your own onsite community area.
Of course, there are reasons to build your own community. Ive found, however, that this is rarely the case. More often, we see faster and more organic results when we join existing communities, and contribute to a greater knowledge base, than just our own.