Lessons in community from community editors #8: Carlos Virgen, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

The latest in this series comes from Carlos Virgen of the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin:

1. You must engage the community in person.

Making digital contact is great and useful but actually meeting face to face is perhaps even more important. Particularly in a community that may not be as technically savvy as others.

Our town has a population of about 30,000 and the outlying areas bump that up to about 45,000 55-60,000. Although I am sure that the majority of those people use email, some of the other web tools are often alien to them.

2. Take small victories when you can.

We’ve tried a couple of community social networks, neither of which grew very big but each of these was able to connect us with a handful of people that have led to other networks.

Our sports community site connected us with a growing but under-reported group of BMX families.

Our general community network connected us to a local dog-owner social network that will be tapped for an upcoming series on local pets and their owners.

Social networks lead to social networks.

3. Do not think of the social network as an extension of the company.

It’s not. If it is, then it isn’t a social network. Be willing and ready to give up the reigns.

If you are lucky this will happen quickly and you will have a core group of users that will steer it responsibly. This is a sign of success.

6 thoughts on “Lessons in community from community editors #8: Carlos Virgen, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

  1. Pingback: Lessons learned in managing online communities « new media notes

  2. Joelle

    I am not sure to get the 1st point ‘You must engage the community in person’. Could you give more details about this lesson ?

  3. Carlos Virgen

    Hey Joelle, I mean that you must go beyond the digital realm of email, Twitter, social networks. For instance, I recently set up a meeting with a high school journalism teacher and scheduled a presentation to her class about what our company is doing, new media and how they can participate by shooting video, etc. Perhaps this point makes more sense for a small community such as ours but I think it could work anywhere.

    How about setting up a meeting at a local coffee shop with your local Twitter or Ning network. Talk about what you’re working on, what they are up to. I think this could engender a stronger sense of community even if this community primarily exists online.

  4. Wendy Card

    Thank you for the Paul, for the blogging advise. You hit the nail on the head when you noted “Interview someone” and “Blog an event”. I have found both of these methods have been very effective and look forward to using your other techniques for future blog posts.


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