Your Community Is Out There, Where Are You?

by Jason Falls |

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Harrison Kratz, perhaps the most talented, aggressive, smart and socially minded person who can’t legally drink I’ve ever met. He’s a fire ball and has done more in just a few short years in the social media space than most people will in the next 10. He wanted to share something passionate with you. I think you’ll see why I said yes.

Okay, I’m only 20 years old and even I remember when community meant the people and places that surrounded you and where you lived. Here we are in 2011, and the idea of community has drastically changed. We now build communities online while fostering conversation for both business and personal purposes. And you know what? It’s awesome. Everyday I’m blown away by the potential we have to communicate on a global level and build a close-knit community at the same time.

That all being said, I’ve seen a disturbing trend among many that some people are trying to break and others fuel on a daily basis. Too often have I seen communities and relationships built online that stay online. Those communities and people are missing the point of social. They’re wrapped up in the tools and fail to realize what makes one social. Fortunately this can be fixed. Through an influx of social media conferences, tweet-ups, happy hours, and whatever else type of party you can think of, we now have the opportunity to get out there and put voices to tweets on a near daily basis. Add in Meetup and Plancast, and finding opportunities to connect in real life are virtually endless.

Our Meet-Up Crowd
Image by Jason Falls via Flickr

Yet for some reason, some people are still content on hiding behind the façade of social media and think that their community stays online. Its more than okay to not know everyone, but is there an excuse for constantly saying, “Oh I’ve tweeted with them” rather than “Yeah we met and shared a drink. It was awesome.” People don’t necessarily remember whom they have and have not tweeted. But I bet you they remember whom they’ve shared a REAL conversation with.

That’s what being social is all about – use the tools to build a network of people that you communicate with on a daily, then actually be social and activate your community. Meet them in real life … develop connections not just contacts.

For all of you that think your location prevents you from meeting others, I call bullshit. That’s the beauty of social; it’s not only in New York, Chicago, LA, and London. It’s everywhere! Just look at what Becky McCray and Jeff Pulver have been able to do with #140conf Small Town. This year’s conference is in Hutchinson, Kan. Need more proof that social media and its opportunities to connect are everywhere?

Hell, I drove 13 hours on a college student’s budget from Philadelphia to Indiana to speak at a conference for no pay, just so I could share a conversation with Jason, Jay Baer, Paula Berg, and other social media thought leaders. Yeah, I’d say it was worth it.

As we move forward and social media continues to grow we must not get caught up behind our devices and endlessly debate what network is better or what feature is the best thing since sliced bread. We must recognize the opportunities that these tools present to us and learn how to take advantage. It’s all about connection – If you are social offline and develop your real life connections, it won’t matter what you blog about or how many tweets you send. Your community and the conversation is happening and growing offline with or without you.

So, what are you waiting for? Get off your ass and go learn the real meaning of community and “social.” 

Harrison Kratz should be an undergrad at Temple University but is playing full-time hooky as the Social Media Coordinator at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina, and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.  Harrison is also a professional speaker who loves to sink his passion for social communication in every presentation. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter, @KratzPR!

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).