I’m winded, genuinely stunned. I think I might have got it wrong about Facebook.
Originally I banished it out of hand to my bin of lost hopes. Consigned it to a place where people go, get lost, and never come back; or at least, not in the same form as they started. A bit like Hadfield, but without the humour.
I now muse on Facebook being a conduit for civilisation betterment. Not by virtue of itself, but as a catalyst for change, engendering a new viewpoint, a transcendent state of mind.
In football, lower league sides are often used as feeder clubs for the bigger boys with cash and talent. Elite youth academy players run out with the minions for some valuable first-team experience, before retracing their steps a couple of seasons on to play in front of a town-size crowd of fans.
To me, that’s a metaphor for Facebook and its role in developing the concept, and impelling the power, of networking.
A few years ago noone outside of the business world ‘networked’ in its truest sense. Networking was all about ill-fitting trousers, bad breath and BNI. Stuffy, stilted get-togethers. False promises of new business passed around with a card and a smarmy smile between the terminally dull and incompetent.
The rules have changed. Look at baby now! Blonde, blue-eyed and ballsy, networking is meaningful conversation and relationship-building for the masses. It’s cool to network. It’s effective, and genuinely develops new commercial opportunities for those so inclined.
There’s huge money and personal gain to be made, not on a Zuckerberg level but nonetheless it’s indirectly attributable to him and his Facebook phenomena.
Facebook has spawned some incredible progeny. Everywhere you look, incredible networks are springing up. Each filling a niche segment, bringing together people united by a common passion. And the community creator often reaps financial spoils from their hard work.
Here’s a trifecta of maybe-not-known-to-you individuals who have nailed it:
Podcast Answer Man. Started as a hobby, and now extended to 25 episodes a week the Generally Speaking Production Network is the work of Cliff Ravenscraft and his bird. It’s an awesome achievement – Cliff has notched about 353 members availing of a Pro membership. They pay $10 a month for added value content. Content, people – content!
Mitch Joel. He’s written books, created a blog loved by thinkers and creators worldwide, and his brand marketing insights challenge and change. He’s done what I perhaps will never achieve: get more than 5 comments on a blog post. Which makes him a hero in my eyes.
Christopher S Penn. Proof that you get what you wish for: he regularly pumped up email marketing titan Blue Sky Factory on his podcast with John Wall, and now look – he’s working there! Chris joins the dots – he interweaves technology with practical applications in a novel twist. Every idea he brings to the table is unique but so quintessentially Penn. And his legion of followers are testament to the fact he knows exactly what he’s doing, and how to make it pay. And when I say ‘pay’…
Three people, three amazing networks.
You’ll see a theme. They all podcast. Podcasting is a way of communicating with your posse on an emotional, informal level. There’s no quicker way to build relationships, to add value to your community. There’s no better way to reach out and build the tribe. Pack the podcast with value-ridden content and you, my friend, are unbeatable.
So you know your target customer, you’ve done the whole Facebook Page thing, got a presence on Twitter, sent a few videos to YouTube to explain what you do, how you do it.
How about taking it to the next level and actually building a castle for your community?
Well, it’s just got easier. A whole lot easier.
Enter BuddyPress a social networking layer sitting atop your WordPress site.
Previously it was difficult for a ‘tard like me to install BuddyPress. But the guys at BP just went into overdrive and unleashed a stupid-friendly update. Jeffro explains it far better than I ever could – but suffice to say, you can now host your own social network easily and with impact by integrating BuddyPress and its new template pack into your existing site.
Today, the opportunities for networking are infinitessimal. Take your niche to new levels and build a community around your passion. It’s the way to be a huge success, and to be empowered by attesting great achievement with others in pursuit of a common goal.
Do you power a network? Do you WANT to power a network? Do you belong to a successful network of tuned-in individuals? What does community mean to you?