A valued member of an online social networking community acts no differently then they would as a member of any other type of social community. The principles of online interaction are essentially the same as those that are established in, say, a neighborhood.
Networking– The fundamentals of building your relationships within an established community begins with a solid amount of networking.
You engage your neighbors. You learn about their likes, dislikes, interests, endeavors, aspirations, and opportunities. You begin to understand the roles that certain people play in your community. You learn where and how you can fit in, and how you can position yourself to be accepted.
So don’t leave things static. An inactive Twitter account is as much of an eyesore as Boo Radley’s house.
Trust– You would not take advantage of your neighbors by dumping your garbage on their lawn. You would not lose their trust by calling the police about a noise complaint, with out at least speaking to your neighbor about it first.
More often then not, you strive to have your neighbor’s backs at all times, to keep their secrets, and act appropriately for the betterment of everyone in the community. You do not cheat, intimidate or steal.
Similarly, why would you SPAM? What is the point of creating a fake Facebook account? To mislead people? Worse, you may believe that something that you post to an online profile is a funny thing for your friends to see. But can others in your online network (less chummy members of your community at large) see it too? They might not find that naked picture on your front door to be so comical.
Value– Everyone in a community brings a certain value to the table in some form or another. Some bring quite a bit more than others. But value can be an ambiguous phrase.
A good listener certainly can bring good value to their neighbors. Think of Wilson from “Home Improvement.” But that good listener must also show some activity. Prove that you are not there to merely stare, freeload, or even worse, prey.
Providing interesting, engaging, and useful information is usually considered the holy grail of online value. A great ‘how to’ blog post. A great video collage that aggregates certain memories or events. But, even a positive comment on a community member’s blog, or a retweet of a follower’s post, symbolizes helpfulness.
But stay within your means. A comedian can be a valuable inspiration to fellow comics and followers by simply offering jokes. But these types of personalities provide value to any and every community that they join. You don’t have to be George Carlin to stand out in your neighborhood.
But you have to do something. Be the first to discover something and share it. Every community needs a Paul Revere.
Establish trust, network and offer value. Prove to your community why you deserve a seat at everyone’s dinner table.