Earlier this week, we at CMSWire hosted a Social Business tweetjam focused on the role of communities in social business. A lot of great contributors and keen insights were presented. In this article we've untangled the tweet stream to bring you some key takeaways.

How Do You Define Community?

Any discussion about communities really needs to start with setting a definition. And as we saw during the jam session, that's a tough thing to do. Community means different things to different people, especially when you examine it from both an internal and external perspective.

@Silona: listening into #SocBizChat i wouldn't say there is a difference btn internal and external instead i would think diff in goals regardless

@hyounpark_AG: Challenge w/community is that the definition is NOT diff for int & ext, but tools for working together differ

@michellemcgee: Ext communities more likely to be driven by passion / interest. Less cheerleading required. 

When you are looking at it from an internal perspective, the discussion becomes even more divisive:

@deb_lavoy teams are not the same as communities. communities are support structures. teams are outcome driven.

@jimstorer: I think of teams as collaborative, but transactional (goal oriented), whereas communities tend to focus on relationships

@sggottlieb: Teams that are built from within a community are more effective because of shared purpose and familiarity

The winner it seems came from Rachel Happe (@rhappe), Principal at @TheCR -- The Community Roundtable:

My current def of community = a group of people with unique shared values, behaviors, & artifacts

Rachel also made a great point that we all need to consider:

...a lot of semantic challenges... when does a network become a community. When is a community a group? don't know

Who Should Facilitate the Community? 

The conversations here were dominated by whether a community should run itself or not, and if it can be successful if there is no leadership. Of course it can depend on the type of community.

 @deb_lavoy I think that a strong c-suite is critical for a strong sense of mission -- which creates community

@gialyons: #SocBizChat when it's not a discrete role, cmty facilitation doesn't happen consistently. & gialyons: #SocBizChat people do what they're measured on, ultimately. you want a community facilitated, make it part of someone's job.

lehawes: @marisacp51 Good question! I think there are use cases for both C-Suite led and employee-formed communities. Depends on purpose.

pmpinsights: #SocBizChat the community should facilitate itself if its setup right

How Do You Get Adoption?

Getting people to join a community may be the easy part. Getting them to actively contribute a bit harder. Maybe an even more important question is, do you need full adoption to claim success?

@billycripe: while weak ties exist in community they = bridges btwn the strong ties forming the core Check out weak tie hypothesis from 1950s 

@AndyMaddocks: I like @sggottlieb 's concept of "not impeding" community formation. Forcing community is kind of anti-thetical to 'community'

@erinkoro: Big factor is AUTHENTICITY. Every post should be inspired and contain relevant intel - that can come from employees & members.

@lehawes: You can't make, only show, them RT @cmswire: how do U get people on board internal communities; how do U make them see value?

@deb_lavoy: they CAN have power - but not by default RT @ITSinsider: do communities have power?

@erinkoro: @billycripe adding tools like permissions + rank & reputation you encourage continued community participation

How Do You Define Community Success?

Defining the success of a community can depend on a number of factors. These include the type of community you have created and its purpose. Success can be based on soft and hard qualities. But determining ROI may not always be necessary.

@billycripe your community is successful when participants feel like their benefits justify their participation & You know your community is successful when it is 1. achieving & supporting core beliefs/goals/interests/outcomes 2. active!

@ITSinsider: @cmswire success of a community is not measured by adoption. it's measured by what the community aims to do

@MeganMurray: No definitive answer that encompasses the development or value of a cmty. So much has to do with understanding the who & the why

@hyounpark_AG: Communities are successful when they create change aligned to their interests. Challenge for biz is in guiding productive change

@R2integrated: @jeffespo #socbizchat community should build loyalty (retention) or help you attract customers. That could be in product, care, or sales.

@sggottlieb: successful communities have layered participation. satellite members give/get little but may transition to core members.

@pmpinsights: @cmswire #socbizchat social systems give capabilities to measure what you previously couldn't measure before. orgs have no benchmark

On defining the ROI of a community:

@deb_lavoy roi can only be discussed in terms of goals - intended or serendipitous. serendipity is a risky biz plan @cmswire

@dan_larkin: @cmswire You need to determine objectives to define success. ROI isn't always the objective (though it should be more).

@MeganMurray: @cmswire #socbizchat Only if ROI is part of the intent/goal. It can take on many, many flavors

@btsite: Community ROI is all about moving the needle, not arrival. Benchmark and improve

@lehawes: If you must seek ROI, look for process exception resolutions that wouldn't have happened without a supporting community in place

Final Thoughts

This was great discussion and generated not only a number of great thoughts and perspectives, but also some additional questions. Questions that, in themselves, may not have direct answers. We would like to thank everyone who joined us for the tweetjam. You can read the entire archive here. And look for this to become a regular chat as we delve further into all aspects of social business.

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