Can community be automated?

This is a guest post from Spike Jones — Group Director of Engagement at WCG and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

In our rush to scale social and plug it into every nook and cranny where it seems like it might even remotely work, we’ve forgotten something – especially when it comes to community: You can’t automate relationships. At most, you can put platforms in place where those relationships can take place. (And there are a small handful of companies out there that do a great job of building platforms that enable those relationships.)

But alas, as an industry grows bigger, people will always try and game the system with technology.

Think about it. Robots are replacing people on a rapidly increasing basis. Smart robots, mind you. Look at the automotive assembly lines. Or just about any electronic device on the market. Automation improves speed, efficiency, and quantity. But in the case of improving quality, that’s where things can potentially go off the rails.

On the flip side, if you keep an eye on fashion at all (especially for men), you’ve probably noticed a large trend towards bespoke experiences, whether it’s a personal shopper like Trunk Club or custom shirts via Blank Label. My point being that people and customers still yearn to have that high-touch, personalized experience. And that goes for communities, too.

The platforms make the introductions, but to solidify those blooming relationships, offline is the key.

And that’s just something you can’t automate. Technology is great, but it also can be a trap — especially if you lean too heavily on it when trying to build something successful and sustainable.

About Spike Jones

Spike Jones is a results-proven communications professional, specializing in digital and offline word of mouth marketing. With more than 15 years of experience, the career path goes something like this: Baylor University; a decade at Brains on Fire; SVP of the Customer Experience team at Fleishman-Hillard; Group Director, Engagement at WCG; and now SVP, Managing Director SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike is also a co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.

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