Think of going to school dances as a youth, the trendy kids are on the dance floor breaking out some epic dance moves. However those who were not on the dance floor were not always the stereotypical wallflowers, often instead of shaking, and wiggling they were deep in conversation with their peers, building relationships and creating connections.
Think of Facebook and YouTube as the popular kids. Perfectly pressed with flashy shiny shoes and slick styled clothes, all the right moves and everyone is wondering “How are they soooo cool?” Yes, Faceook is YouTube are pretty impressive. Both amazingly powerful platforms with tons of user generated content rushing in. Facebook alone has over 400 million active users that spend over 500 billion minutes per month connecting with their friends and playing Farmville. YouTube has over 2 billion views a day, and 24 hours of video is uploaded EVERY minute. Just because they are popular options doesn’t make them ONLY or the BEST option for the community you are trying to build. Don’t get me wrong, popular kids often leaders, organizers and have fantastic foundations for strong communities. They attracted a diversity of people into their community and do an excellent job serving and growing exponentially.
However when it comes to the wall flowers think of kids that are like me the ones who might choose to hang out in the library during lunch, or work on building their own computer in the computer lab, they might also be the kids that are carefully listening to a younger student recite their play lines. These sorts of people usually find joy in helping one on one, teaching, helping, being hands on. They like people of similar interest, value and culture. The interesting part is that the web has groups sprouting up every minute that are over shadowed by the popular kids, the big groups however these sorts of wallflowers always bloom with opportunity.
Forums – Used for networking, organizing events, highly valuable technical information
Local Clubs – From hikers, to knitting to geocaching local clubs organize, plan and build their networks online.
Linkedin Groups – Great for industry networking, and asking questions to a group of professionals.
Community Groups – From HOA, neighborhood gardens, to community resource groups. Each of these groups are starting to depend more and more on organizing and communicating. From using Google’s free tools like docs, and calendar these small groups get a better handle on keeping things running smoothly.
Review Sites - Yelp, Google Local, even Foursquare bring in a valuable insight for all kinds businesses. Customer reviews are powerful and must be paid attention to.
There is another class of online activity happening, websites with highly engaged members that produce, and share high quality content. These four are all powerhouses of information, and great people willing to share their experience and engage in great conversations.
These sorts of sites sometimes get premium press, yet too often they are overlooked by the “popular kids” and get underrated . These sorts of places on the web have a unique perspective on community, services and what defines their success. Another great thing about these often underrated sites that have dedicated loyal high quality content generating users. People that care often deeply about the community they have learned to identify with.
When you are looking for research, to connect with customers or become better connected in your community or industry don’t forget the often underrated wallflowers.