Guest Blog - Building Communities with Digital Technologies

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Liz was recently ask to write a guest blog post for InfoLab21's BlogSpot column.
"Since opening in 2005 InfoLab21 at Lancaster University has built up a strong reputation as an international Centre of Excellence for research in information and communication technologies and for supporting regional businesses through networking events, workshops and funded ICT programmes."

Liz's blog can be found at http://www.infolab21.lancs.ac.uk/news_and_events/news/blogspot?article_i...

Online or offline it takes time and dedication to build communities and relationships that last.

We work with a variety of SMEs and not-for-profit clients and pride ourselves in building relationships where knowledge is shared, confidence is built, and impact is made. We prefer to have long term relationships where all parties benefit, rather than fly-by-night flings.

Digital technologies have now evolved to such an extent that it has become easier than ever to network and communicate with others, either around geography or areas of interest. The next step is building communities, with benefits that last. This is the part that requires more effort but reaps richer rewards.

Using online networks to empower, promote and connect people, prior to offline meetings, is the new "ice breaker". You can find out people's interests, what they've been up to over the last few days, or even what cake they prefer for a meeting. You can start to have conversations, even before you meet a potential client or stakeholder.

Remember though, it's essential to engage others in conversations, rather than just "broadcasting" advertising. The engagement pyramid, is useful to refer to when you think about who you want to build a community with and how. You should be informative, helpful, interested and genuine online, otherwise people will soon lose interest and therefore that important engagement. The best thing you can be online, is you!

Have you ever considered making and sharing a video or audio clip online, about what you do, the impact your business makes to society or the service users you engage with? It's 5 times more effective in building respect, engagement and inevitably ROI (Return On Investment) for your business or charity.

A post that includes an album or picture receives 120-180% more engagement from fans, than a text-based post.

That makes sense right? We all prefer some digital media to brighten our day, be that a 6 second video on the latest platform Vine, or a new mobile phone app with the latest hilarious meme images.

"People want to engage with you because..."?

If you can answer that quickly and succinctly, you are already on your way to building a community of your own. If not, think about what you can offer that no-one else does.

For DigiEnable, that's "Making Conversations Happen" and going that extra mile to help build stronger communities, using a variety of digital technologies, both online and offline for digital storytelling.

You will often find us online offering a friendly ear, keen media eye, and a helping hand because we get that communities, much like conversations, blossom when you understand it's a two way thing.