It's a crazy model I developed one night when I could not sleep, and I love it enough that I want to share it.
Imagine a pendulum. This pendulum swings from one side to the other. One one side, you have "Connections" and the other "Content". This model shows a strategy and cycle to digital communities in my eyes as a social media manager.
There are times when your focus as a manager is to build a community. The pendulum is at this particular point all the way on the "Connections" side, and for a brief period of time, you work towards building up the communities. Content does not go away, but it is not the focus. You will recognize a few instances in the year when this will not only happen, but be important. You cannot stay at this point forever as you will have a lot of people, but not a lot of engagement.
A good majority of the time, it is a balance to create good content and the community naturally grows. Not going to lie, this is a sweet spot to be in as a social media manager. The problem is if you are here the whole time, there is a good chance you will enter "cruise control" as if the pendulum stopped.
Then there are times when it becomes important to reward your digital communities for being connected with highly engaging and creative content. At this point, the pendulum is all the way to the other side. While the communities may be growing, it is not your focus. Again, you can't stay at this point for too long because what you create at this point in time is special to the community. If you stayed here, your content will eventually no longer be special, but rather normal.
There you have it. It is a rough theory, and it needs some work, but I think it is a good way to look at the work that needs to be done when you are responsible for one or several digital communities.
What do you think?