This is the first post in my Setting Up a Community Site series, using the WordFrame platform but applying general principles in the process, so the series will hopefully be of interest to a wider group than just those of us using WordFrame.

As well as touching on those general principles, I will also be sharing some of the thought processes I’ve put myself through and some of the techniques, e.g. mind-mapping, I’ve used for that.

Note that these posts will not be of the 5 Basic Steps…. or 7 Key Things… variety. More of a discursive account of, or a chat, if you will, about a process that I am quite happy to acknowledge was in itself somewhat roundabout. If that’s not your cup of tea, don’t say you have not been warned!

Speaking of discursiveness, it was interesting for me to notice at the end of the process that I was essentially back where I had started. The much-quoted verse by T S Eliot came immediately to mind:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

That’s not to say that the journey was not worth the effort. Far from it. I feel more comfortable with what I have developed because I know I have been up hill and down dale with various other possibilities.

The mind-mapping has been very helpful in that process, especially in helping me see in a visual display what I realise now I did not really want and getting a feel for what I do want to focus on.

The first step has been to establish, from the various possibilities I’ve thought of, just what my purpose is in setting up the site, for whom it is meant to cater, what the focus of the site will be and what kind and range of content I see it as having.

Putting that another way and more succinctly, before I got into other issues, such as the actual name of the site, design and the choice and availability of a domain name, I saw that I needed to define or at least delineate:

  • purpose
  • people
  • focus
  • content

And in the circular, iterative pattern of thinking I found myself on in this process, I figured that to handle each of those points effectively, I needed first to clarify my basic concept for the site. From that I would establish the site name or title and the related question of a domain name, then go on to the other issues.

Basic Concept and Name

My original concept was to establish a site which would focus on social media in the geo-political region which includes China, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand (the latter two countries often referred to collectively as Australasia).

For a while, as I thought about this concept, I had some misgivings. Key issues were:

  • how useful and current is the term “social media” (I know some people in the IT world hate the term)?
  • how useful and current will the term “social media” be, one or two years from now?
  • is the real, underlying topic I want to focus on more about “community” and/or “communication” than about “social media” as such?
  • what is the most appropriate term to encompass the geo-political region, Asia, Asia and Australasia, or is there one?
  • in defining or delineating a region in this way, in relation to a putative community of interest, am I excluding consideration of developments in other parts of the globe, or discouraging interest by potentially interested people whose focus is however not on my part of the world – and if so are those problems or just considerations?

To try and get some clarity on these issues, I first used some mind-mapping software (I use the designed-for-education tool Inspiration), then tried some mind-mapping on paper. This included a session taking “Community” as the key idea for the site.

Then I realised that for me it’s not just “community”, significant as that is. It’s community about social media and the community of people interested in the topic of social media. It’s also about social media with an emphasis and focus on the part of the world where, as an Australian of Irish heritage I live, i.e. in the Asian region, albeit in a country with a predominantly Western cultural and political framework.

What if I said “Asia Pacific”? Well, that’s ok, but the term includes the West Coast of the USA and Canada as well as the countries I am more interested in focusing on for this project. Interesting, perhaps, but a different frame from the one I want to use.

So what’s a term that is going to reference China, South East Asia and Australasia?

What about “East”?

My initial feeling was that while “East” works, obviously, for China and South East Asia, it is a bit of a stretch to include Australia and New Zealand. My next thought was that as a descriptor attached to “Social Media” it is pretty good for my purposes, and not so specific or culturally weighted as to exclude consideration of developments in Australasia.

And of course everywhere is east of somewhere :).

OK, so now we have “Social Media East”.

The more I looked at it, thought about it, thought about how I wanted to use it, the more I liked it.

It was focused enough to enable me to build the site I had in mind, incorporate resources I would like to see available in one place and attract interest both from people in the region and people not resident in the region but nevertheless interested in social media developments in the region.

It was general enough to not have a sense of restricting participation and also able to accommodate a shift in emphasis or focus down the track if that looked like being a good thing to do.

As a firm believer in the principle of owning, wherever possible, the top level domain (.com) for any site name, I checked. Bingo! The name socialmediaeast.com was available. Not any longer, as it’s now registered to my company.

What if the domain had not been available? That’s really a topic for a whole blog post, perhaps at the end of this series if there is any sign of anyone being interested in that.

And the currency and use-by timeframe of “social media”? Well, for me and for many people I know and respect, the term is sufficiently descriptive and widely used enough to work for my purposes. As to the use-by date timeframe for the term, I’m not going to get hung up on the idea that what we now call social media might in year or more from now have some other tag.

Worst case scenario? Change the name. But I’ll cross that bridge if it shows up.

So now I have a concept and a name.

In the next post in this series I’ll elaborate on the Purpose of the site.

In the meantime, comments are, as always, welcome. That could include suggestions as to how I could have got to this point more rapidly and efficiently.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).