Build or Join? Success Comes From Leveraging Both

Build or Join: I have read many blogs on this topic and many prospects have asked my advice on this social media conundrum. The problem here is that it's not really an "either", "or" question. I strongly encourage companies to create a presence in both types of communities.

I compare this type of scenario to the retail industry. Let's say it's 1987, Howard Schultz comes to me with his coffee beans and equipment company called Starbucks looking to get into the retail beverage business. He asks me, "Jason, should I build a store or join an existing retail outlet that already has existing customers like a bookstore chain, i.e. Barnes & Noble.' I would ask, "Howard, are all your current and prospective customers purveyors of bookstores? Do you want a branded destination to influence, research, sell and market to customers? Do you want to own the content within your place of business, design it to how you see fit, promote it as destination on marketing collateral and attract as many customers as possible?" If he said yes to the questions above but stated that not all his customers, but many, frequent bookstore chains ; I would suggest: do both. 

The same answer is true for the question of either building a social media destination versus joining an existing one (MySpace,
Facebook,etc). You need to do both. You want the freedom to engage community members in any way you see fit (discussions, blogs, voting, etc), develop a dialogue with community members, measure and research behaviors that make the most business sense for your particular brand or company. You want to OWN the community, its content, its data and URL.But, you're not done. You have to go where your community members live like Facebook, SharePoint or iGoogle. Give your community members the tools (Facebook app, widget) to participate in and evangelize your community beyond its URL.

You need the freedom of building your own social media destination and the extensibility to take advantage of the viral marketing power of existing commercial ones.

Hmmm....A Grande Mocha Latte  sounds good right now. Until next time!

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