Social Media is the outdoor advertising of the Web. You take the message to other platforms where the people are and use that platform’s tools to engage.

But long before Facebook and Twitter showed up, social media was the comments and trackbacks you found on blogs or the posts and threads in phpbb or vbulletin forum sites — affinity and niche communities, but no where near the massive scale we see at those social media mega malls with today’s huge penetration of internet access in the market. The biggest scale was at AOL, but AOL didn’t see its users as a community, they saw them as an audience of customers.

Just like Mom and Pop shops rising against the big boxes and superstores, might there be new opportunities to start building community sites again and work the long tails and niches? Relevant advertising is a key component, or some kind of exclusive value proposition for a membership model. But how to manage scale with lean approach and real human touch is the operational foundation. This piece from firstround interviewing reddit’s community manager is fascinating and well worth the time:

Reddit is considered one of the world’s leading news and social sites, with over 5.5 billion pages served to over 100 million unique visitors spanning 186 countries. It’s also known as one of the most engaged, vocal and opinionated communities on the web. It’s given birth to international movements. It’s found lost children. It’s sparked fiery debates in the media over what the internet should and shouldn’t be.

Given the sheer volume, you’d expect the community team to be huge, but it’s still in the single digits. You’d expect a sophisticated big data machine. What you’d find is a human approach that relies more on intuition than numbers. And yet, the millions of people who post, observe, and return day after day have enshrined it as a sacred part of their lives.

How can you make your company’s community feel so connected? Heard? Engaged? In this exclusive First Round Review interview, Reddit’s General Manager and former Community Manager Erik Martin shatters assumptions and talks about how to win by making community management more about the heart than the mind.

via What to Learn from the Man Who Managed Reddit’s Community of Millions.

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