A community needs to organize around something, or as Hugh MacLeod would say, "the social object."
So, what is the object around which Microsoft partners who sell into State & Local Governments and Academic might organize?
If we can provide partners with a true "plug-n-play" format for driving net new opportunities, that process, or "engine" could become the object around which the community organizes.
And the value of that community?
A better engine that yields better results for each member of the community.
Community members who feel invested will feel ownership, which yields input, iteration, refinement and, ultimately, results.
The engine may be the social "object," but the drivers of the community around the social object have one thing in common. They are two-way methods of communication.
The community can't (and doesn't want to be) "broadcasted to," it requires "participation with", so
- a facebook group
- a live, virtual roundtable (aka WIN Webcast)
- a video channel on Soapbox or (gasp, YouTube 🙂 )
- a Flickr photo-sharing site
Each of these provide the opportunity for the community to participate and not just with the "social object" but with each other.
Most of them won't (see 1 percenters), but the fact that they can is what matters.
And I'm not saying we need all of them or even most of them, but we will need some. But we'll have to try many of them to see what makes the most sense.
Of course, if our marketing engine doesn't deliver value, then it doesn't matter (but that's a different post)
Here's Part 1 on this topic.