I came across this new book today. It’s for corporate customer focused communities so not everything it suggests will apply here, but I did think this line was interesting and resonated a bit for me: “Do you spend your days endlessly trying to get community members to click like, share, and post comments?”

There’s only 25 people here to far so I’ve clearly not been spending days on this but I still may have been ‘community managing’ a bit more proactively than I should have been?

The book suggests the key to not doing so is building communities that neither the community managers, nor their members, can live without.

That brought me back to some points I’d tweeted earlier in the week in response to a suggestion that online communities are easier to develop when there’s a physical community already in operation. And I agree with that - in fact my book The Social Organization is largely focused on linking social technology groups to organisation design groups, and making the later of these more social (ie using communities as well as functions and projects to achieve business objectives).

However I also think online communities can fill a gap when there isn’t an existing community - which in the workplace can often be the result of physical separation, or excessive workload, etc. I tweeted that just as markets can be imperfect, so can self organisation and emergence.

Online communities can be successful where there’s a passion for something, even if it’s unfocused and untapped and needs to be unleashed. My hope is that this is the case with social capital. As I do think that many people are passionate about different aspects of social capital development - whether that be organisation network analysis, enterprise social networking, workplace design, internal communication, social cognitive neuroscience, network science, collaboration, teaming, organisational democracy, etc, etc. My belief is that we can be more powerful by bringing that passion together rather than thinking and talking in the different silos.

However, I still think social capital is a difficult thing to build a community around. Actually, I’m not sure that even I am passionate about social capital. But I’m passionate about building organisations around people, to make business a bit better, and to make a positive difference to people’s working lives. I think that focusing on the relationships between people will potentially do both of those things better than just looking at the individual people themselves. And I think social capital is the way that we achieve that. The term isn't wonderfully compelling, but the meaning behind it definitely can be.

I’m also aware that we’ve not yet got as clear a focus or objective as we might need. I hope that we will be able to develop that, but hope it can emerge from the community.

So given all of this, other than putting a photo of penguins up on the header, what else can I / we do to make this community indispensible, or at least slightly more important, for you / us,that might also help attract more people to join?