Last Updated Jul 9, 2009 3:40 PM EDT
That's right, gardeners. These are the people, often in the background, who plant, grow and maintain social media sites. They may be programmers, conversation starters, content editors, graphic artists or community standards enforcers. The most feature rich, Ajax drenched supersite won't attract users unless there is a compelling reason to come and engage. Automation takes you only so far. It's the flesh-and-blood gardeners who create those conditions.
David Armano has a better way to characterize these functions: seeding (preparing the site for growth), feeding (keeping fresh, relevant content pumping through the system) and weeding (pruning old content and analyzing data). Each requires talented people.
Writing on Harvard Business Publishing, Armano says it's a myth that social media is fast, cheap and easy.
This underestimation of initial resources stems, I think, from the belief that the best social sites are simply tool sheds from which participants can create vibrant content and applications. Why invest in staff when all the value comes from users, usually for free?
True enough: A successful social site will support its own membership, develop and enforce community standards, and create tons of useful content. But social initiatives hoping to get to this Nirvana state must first invest in people to design the project, move it out of the garage and to provide new resources for growth.
"Not taking into account the manpower that's involved in these as you develop your social business design strategy can lead to a lack of adoption or participation -- essential elements to any social initiative," Armano writes.Read his post Debunking Social Media Myths for a better insight into the people resources required to create a compelling social initiative.