The definition of community is a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists. Within social media, community can be defined several ways, all of which should be belonging AND doing.

Too often the term “community” within social media is thrown around as if it is something that everyone should be doing FOR you. Following your brand, commenting on your posts, sharing your content. Building a community around a brand should not be about what others are doing for/about you. It should be about strengthening relationships around common interests that also includes your company. I frequently see pages and twitter accounts where companies largely ignore their “community”.

The bottom line is that Community Is Something You DO and Something You Belong To. It’s both not one or the other. You do community with your community. That is true whether online, offline or in social media marketing. When you DO community, you are part of it, not just the reason for it. You both belong to the group along with showing interest, appreciation and care by engaging in it.

The challenge for social media agencies, internal brand departments and individual marketers within the social graph is to build community around their audience, not themselves, delivering value and being community to that audience. You do need to build a highly engaged community of fans, friends and followers, but you need to do that by doing. Examples?

1) Reach out to your audience. Don’t just sit back and wait for them.

2) Always respond, looking for opportunities to build relationship.

3) Be selfless. Don’t make everything about you. Share the content they find valuable that is not related to your business.

4) Share your communities content. Just because you didn’t post it, doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to your community.

5) Help your audience achieve THEIR goals and objectives daily.

How does your brand or agency do community?