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Saturday, 7 February 2015

18 top tips and thoughts about using #social media to enable #community

I've drawn these top tips from the article "Enabling community through #social media " which I found via the following tweet

  1. See article via @PhMai "Enabling Community Through  @hthwaite @gruzd PING
    Retweeted by Alison Mayne

You can read the html version of the article here and it is by Anatoliy Gruzd1, PhD and Caroline Haythornthwaite2, PhD   
1School of Information Management, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
2School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, The iSchool at UBC, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

The more formal citation for the article is at the foot of this post as is the copyright that covered the original article

Top tips and thoughts about using social media to enable community

1) Online communities can:
- help form communities for those geographically remote from one another 
- augment geographically focused communities via online information and forums
- extend interaction times and methods through online/offline combinations

2) Initially critics of online communities argued they lacked the nuance of face to face interaction (e.g. text = too lean & unemotional, anonymity = unpersonal) - yet online communicators found ways around perceived shortcomings (eg, with emoticons OR the ability to talk through text without face-to-face contact OR the need for immediate response. ). 

3) Mobile means of using social media aren't used in isolation from offline interaction and are embedded in everyday life - as we weave and juggle social, learning, and work interactions across media, and across home, education and work boundaries

4) Those who maintain closer ties use more media to communicate  - and more forms of interaction through multiple connections to others can also increase the value of engagement. 

5) You can seed a community with lots of initial contribution by altruistic or proactive leaders and core participants - They can help build a critical mass of participants and interactions in a “safe space” 

6) But soon after you do 5) the network of active participants needs to grow in a way that distributes leadership and participation beyond single leaders into a strong core of active participants 

7) Attention to others is an important aspect of community

8) Guard against conversations fragmenting into isolated cliques. 

9) Weekly discussions boost interaction, stimulate activity and provide a dependable rhythm 

10) Rules and norms emerge/evolve through community interaction 

11) Encourage people to join the community just by observing initially - that's how potential members learn and immerse themselves in the norms and knowledge of the community

12) Peripheral participants = untapped resources for the network - Find out what motivates them so you can make it easy for them to participate in the community.

13) However, too many lurkers can inhibit community, put posters on the spot and fail to create the interactivity necessary for long-term viability 

14) Be mindful that communication via social media can reduce inhibitions normally associated with communicating,   

15) Before people become moderators of discussions they need to build authority in the community - they can do this by being prominent in the network by being more active in it.  This will help them connect better with ongoing discussions.

16) Identify your Networkers and engage with them - the more prominent participants provide bridges into other communities and so increase the reach and prominence of your community.

17) Map graphically the network of participants in your community & their interactions - this can help reveal emerging and existing roles (such as core participants) 

18) All of the following can help communities
- local language, shorthands and in-group signifiers
- group-defined genres, rules of conduct, and policing of conduct
- interpersonal self-disclosure, emotional support, and shared history 
- group adoption of shared goals and missions, or expectations that practices as they exist will be honoured and valued in the future. 
- Shared expectations about future commitments enhance trust in the community and its members

Gruzd A, Haythornthwaite C
Enabling Community Through Social Media
J Med Internet Res 2013;15(10):e248
DOI: 10.2196/jmir.2796
PMID: 24176835
PMCID: 3842435

Corresponding Author:

Anatoliy Gruzd, PhD
School of Information Management
Faculty of Management
Dalhousie University
6100 University Ave, Suite 4010
Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2
Phone: 1 9024946119
Fax:1 9024942451
©Anatoliy Gruzd, Caroline Haythornthwaite. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 31.10.2013.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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