Why Being Social Is More Important Than Social Media

I’m often asked about the best way to market a coworking space, or how to attract new members to the community. Many space catalysts assume that because coworking is a natural fit for digital professionals, social media must be the best way to generate interest in their target audience.

No brainer-right? Find computer people on the computer. I decided to do the math and see if the Cohere community supported this obvious theory. To my shock and awe, it didn’t.

According to my stats (and the snazzy pie chart above), over half of all Cohere members gave it a try because a human told them about why they should. Even more surprisingly, Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounted for only 11 percent of all day pass requests. Combined.

What does this mean?! Just tweeting your blog posts and creating a Facebook event won’t automatically attract a community of awesome independents who live to stop, drop, and collaborate. If you want to help grow a strong, vibrant community of self-starters, you’re still going to have to talk about how much you want it. A lot.

Building a community is, among other things, about building trust. Establishing a reputation. Creating a place of security, respect, and intense creativity. Although there are many things you can like, thumb, & tweet, these actions will never usurp a smile, cup of coffee, or recommendation from an old friend.

My advice? Spend time talking with your community about why they cowork. Discuss the ways you interpret and implement the five values. Ask them why they’d rather share a desk instead of renting a private office. Create an atmosphere in which every member of the community can share the message of coworking–in their own words.

Then, you’ll probably notice that they begin to generate an online buzz organically (the way it’s supposed to be!) and people will start to take notice without ads, pitches, or kooky discount promotions. In my experience, social media can be a powerful tool to strengthen and solidify the community, but can’t make it materialize out of thin air.

Do you know where your members come from? Have you had a different experience? Share it in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Phil Hawksworth

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