David DNomads historically lived in tents or easily dismantled housing. These abodes were anchored to the ground with a few stakes in the ground, easily pulled when the time to move came.  Skyscrapers, built to last for centuries, are anchored in bedrock. They take years to create and are used for generations. They never move. Ever.

The challenge a lot of organizations run into with social networks is that they try to build a skyscraper in a nomadic environment. This does not create good results!

Ning, a social network provider founded by one of the inventors of the first mainstream web browser, until recently offered a free version of their product for anyone to use for online collaboration and community. Many non-profits and associations used the tool to create inexpensive communities. The ones who are in trouble are those that treated the space more like a skyscraper than a temporary camping spot.

Free tools are never truly free. Trying to build a sustainable community for the long term on a platform that could easily and quickly shift out from under you is actually very expensive in terms of risk.

The online world evolves rapidly. What is free today is charged for tomorrow. The platform du jour becomes moldy leftovers in the blink of an eye. You can pitch a tent online on someone else’s network and risk little. Build a skyscraper where you don’t own the bedrock and you are creating tremendous risk.

Determine your platform based on your needs. Need short term, nimble community engagement? Pitch a tent where it makes sense without a tremendous amount of planning and resources. Need a social network for the ages that is a core part of your value? Make sure you have bedrock to anchor it and property rights so you won’t be evicted. In short: make an up-front investment to own your platform if you intend to live on it for a quite a while.

Real Magnet has partnered with David Gammel and his firm High Context Consulting to provide a series of association focused webinars over the next year.  Our next webinar is May 25th, at 2 p.m. EST.  View the program description below:

Communicating for Impact: Simple Techniques for Breakthrough Improvement

May 25th at 2 p.m. EST

Everyone uses electronic communication and marketing today but the most successful organizations employ a few simple techniques to dramatically improve their results. Join us in this fast paced webinar to learn how these approaches can be used to create dramatic results in your own campaigns.

Register today!