When they come, build it | Community Strategy | Ambix

Why a community strategy matters.

There are powerful tools all around us for digital engagement. As society moves closer to being ‘Digital by Default’, there is sometimes an unseemly rush to keep up, without measured thinking being applied. There is a danger that decision makers express their digital needs in archaic terms (or misuse new ones), or choose a tool without defining the job it has to do. It is the duty of the digitally engaged, the leaders in their field, to guide and manage the changes that are underway.

Learn the language of a rapidly changing world

Only 2 decades ago, easily within the work experience of today’s key decision makers, websites and email were new and foreign, and what we understand as search often meant asking round your peer group or going to the library and looking up microfiche records. It is exactly 20 years since a PC was purchased for my own office with a tool to search a remote directory for hotels for our contractors when they worked away. Revolutionary! We had no language to describe this new toy, but instead expressed it in terms of a solution. However, we hear too often now a request for a website, a hub, a cloud, where the solution may be very different. The focus needs to shift from trying to express what’s required in terms of known tools in the comfort zone, to defining the problem and finding the best solution.

Find the tool for the job – not a job for the tool

One of the first questions that we ask a new client is to define the current structure of their community. It’s all very well demonstrating an attractive and practical piece of software, but no amount of enthusiasm for elegance will compensate for the key issue: investment in a new tool is only warranted where a need is met. This is something that has plagued small businesses for many years, as they rush to adopt the newest social media platforms en masse, without actually analysing the needs of the business or the behaviour of its target market.

With a social intranet like Ambix, the question is not ‘can you build an online community’ but ‘can an existing community grow stronger and more effective with the right tools’.

Build it, and they will come? No: if they come, build it.