you don’t sell to a community. you support a community.

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time thinking about this notion of ‘becoming a hub‘ as a business.

And something about it has always felt . . . dangerous.

Or . . . a little ‘off’ or ‘inauthentic’. Or at least like there was the potential to be. And this post I just read from Dan Blank nails a lot of my concerns.

In fact, I’d like to coin a term: community-washing. Let’s add it to ‘green washing’, ‘local washing’ and a term I think I coined ‘good washing’.

For me, community washing is where the rhetoric is all about community – but the reality is about marketshare. It’s where the conversation around ‘building community’ is disingenuous because the primary driver is about turning the community into customers. I wonder if a driver behind community washing is that we’re really uncomfortable talking about business and money directly so we couch it in feel good terms.

I am seeing more and more businesses get on this train. It can be called building community or ‘growing your tribe’ and talked about in the hippiest of terms. And yet – I find myself wondering if we’re being real about what we’re doing (and why we’re doing it).

The irony is – these feel good terms can make it feel ten times as gross if it’s not authentic.

Here’s what Dan has to say . . .

Companies now realize that there is business value in social media. That it is worth an investment of their time and resources, that it can bring them closer to those in their market, and can be a powerful marketing platform.

But there is one term that us being thrown around a bit too casually: community.

Suddenly, every company is “developing” a community online, or engaging an existing community, at least in their marketing plans. But a crowd isn’t a community. A market is not a community.

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