Community Building and what the Disney Fan Club can Teach Us – Part 1

It seems like the words “community building” and “social media” go hand in hand.

Without community, social media is nothing. Every good social media observer understands this, and thus, focuses a large amount of their time and efforts on online community building.

Well except one… ME.

This is not to say that I don’t believe that growing your community size and engagement rates are not both important. To be clear, I really do.

If you started reading this article looking for specific tips on community building on social media below is a list of articles for you to read.

  1. The best community requires an invitation – The Mogul Mom
  2. What are you objectives as a community manager? – Social Media Examiner
  3. Offer value to draw people in – Social Media Examiner
  4. Follow the 70 / 20 /10 rule – Practical eCommerce

I encourage you to click each of the links above and to read the full articles about community building. I then encourage you to come back and read the rest of this article for a slightly different perspective.

So what is the problem with this advice?

All of the above advice starts with the assumption that before you had a Facebook / Twitter account you didn’t – and couldn’t have – had a community. But now that you have social media, you can FINALLY build community.

The mindset, that social media is the only place you build community, quickly causes problems inside any organization.

The biggest and best brands have always understood that community is not a technical problem. It is not made with a Facebook page, a blog or a printed newsletter. It’s made by connecting with your audience in a real way.

So, I’ve questioned the value of community building on social media and haven’t provided any actionable advice.

In Part 2 – of this series I will break down the details of why I think the Disney Fan Club has figured out “building community” regardless of social media.

In Part 3 – I will talk about how you can start to replicate this.

What do you think are the best examples of communities?

Will Fraser

Will Fraser is a co-founder of YUPIQ, a premier Viral Promotion Builder that makes it easy for anyone to create promotions that encourage and reward the sharing of their videos, webpages and special offers with friends.

Will has launched products into marketplaces such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. He continues to work with major social media, technology and consumer brands from around the world in order to help them reach their business objectives online.

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  • Guest

    I agree with you about Disney being an excellent example of a community. Another I would like to add is Old Spice – but that is more of a social media presence – than a true community. 

    Although, wouldn’t you agree that Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites tend to see more brand interaction than traditional attempts at community building? 

    Having a brand community can be a double-edged sword. Yes, fans get to engage with each other and their brand of choice but that also means that fans have a public voice and a very public place to hold a spectacle.

    So… is a community really a place or thing for brands to create, to interact with, or to avoid altogether?

  • Will Fraser

    Thanks for the great comment. 

    I agree with you that social sites are a great place to see “more” interaction. It just isn’t the only place to see it. 

    Businesses that start by amazing their customers can see more interaction. Businesses that treat their customers like … customers are going to work much too hard to build this artificial community. 

    With respect to the double-edge sword; I agree social media amplifies negative experiences. However, I don’t think of these comments as community building or really community anything. They are just customer service opportunities and a chance to improve so you can build a supporting community. 

    Lastly, community is a place for brands, not to create but to support and nurture. 

  • Guest

    I like this article. Too many social media advocates get caught up in the technology and forget the underlying value of the community. i can’t wait to see more.

  • Will Fraser

    Thanks. I hope to drive that point home in part 2 of this series.

  • Madd117

    For some brands it seems like they are trying to force a community simply because they think they should or because these online tools now exist. Without offering any genuine value to these users it always seems like wasted effort. I look forward to see what the next part of your post discusses on this topic. 

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  • Will Fraser


    Thanks a bunch for your comment. I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my thinking. 

    I think you nailed it on the head with “genuine value”. Communities that provide value don’t need to “build” they just need to “support”. 

    Make sure you come back and let me know what you think of part 2. 

  • Will Fraser

    Thanks for the comment. 

    Make sure you come back and let me know what you think of part 2.