Plenty of celebrities use social media well, whether on their own or with some assistance. But one person who has stood out to me recently is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s become one of my favorite examples.

Currently, Schwarzenegger is primarily active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reddit and Snapchat, where he goes by ArnoldSchnitzel (no joke).

When I look at his profiles, I see promotion, certainly, but I also see a great authenticity that comes through by sharing his unique personality and what he cares about. He’s very accepting of the cultural influence he has had and embraces the moments from his career that are memorable for fans. If you watch enough of his videos, you might just see him throw in an “hasta la vista” or a “get to the chopper.”

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Homesteading TodayHomesteading Today is a very large online community dedicated to the practice of homesteading. The forum was acquired by Carbon Media Group (CMG) in July of 2014, as part of a large package of sites they bought from Group Builder.

Beginning late last year (according to this apology), the company started taking posts from certain sections of Homesteading Today and republishing them on other forums owned by CMG. The practice went unnoticed until a few days ago, when a member found that posts they had made on Homesteading Today were showing up on Cattle Forum, another CMG community.

The member, willow_girl, posted a thread talking about how she discovered that posts she made on Homesteading Today were showing up at Cattle Forum under the name “Alice.” She hadn’t made them and had no idea who Alice was. One of the posts shared a pretty personal story about saving a cow, which this Alice was now taking credit for.

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Jay Baer recently wrote about the importance of owning your “social community.” The idea of building community in spaces that you control is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and it’s good that someone like Jay is talking about it. That will help the message reach more big brands.

His article led to a discussion on Google+, where someone pointed to some examples provided by Jay – like The Home Depot Community – and questioned if they represented real “engagement.” They mentioned that there were discussions with a handful of replies and “no likes.” There were plenty of views of the discussions, but not a lot of replies. So where is the engagement, they wondered?

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Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial from Nationwide. The commercial, embedded below, revolves around a handful of little kids who are on the receiving end of some unsatisfactory customer service.

There is a boy on the phone, and he’s told by an automated greeting that his call is important, but his wait time is 55 minutes. This is followed by a girl attempting to get the attention of a server at a restaurant – the server walks right by her. You get the idea.

In the final example, a girl is frustrated and looking at her damaged car. Then a Nationwide representative appears and tells her that they’ll take care of the problem. Instantly, she turns into an adult woman. In other words, Nationwide is treating her as an adult, not a child.

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After his great guest post about companies engaging on reddit, Dave DiGiovanni of is back again with a great example of a company that has created their own subreddit as a means of building community on the platform.

Duolingo is a fun, addictive and free way to learn a new language. The Duolingo Incubator is a community that was created to give users a process for generating new Duolingo courses. The Duolingo Incubator community is a great example of what is possible when a company embraces community. You can learn more about how that community was created and developed in this post on CMX Hub.

The Duolingo Incubator allows Duolingo to release new language courses at a much faster rate and is critical to their success, but it is not the only way they leverage the power of community. They have also created r/Duolingo, a subreddit on reddit that serves as a community for reddit users that are fans of Duolingo. The subreddit has almost 23,000 subscribers and multiple active discussions every day.

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Every so often, a message will cross my stream where someone is complaining that Twitter doesn’t work for them, they aren’t getting much out of Twitter, or they are simply done with it. That’s cool, everyone is different.

But I’m actually enjoying Twitter more now than I did a year ago. I have used Twitter to improve myself and to strengthen my connection with the people I care about most on the service. I wanted to talk about how that applies to my work in community.

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Bad reviews represent opportunity. On Tuesday, I received an email that illustrated this clearly.

The message was from someone that bought my book. But they almost didn’t. They said that they were going to buy my book, until they saw this review on Amazon. After they read that it was “outdated,” they decided not to buy the book.

Until they saw my reply to the review. Because of my reply, they went ahead and bought it, telling me that it looks great.

The review was written more than a year ago. Just like my reply. But reviews can live forever. I’ve heard plenty of people say that you should not respond to reviews of your book posted by Amazon. But if you know how to respond calmly and kindly, I think that’s bad advice.

It would have been easy to ignore that review. It has 0 helpful votes. This might lead you to think it’s not an influential review. But that’s the trap people fall into. If I had simply dismissed that review and decided not to reply, this person would have never picked up my book. They wouldn’t have emailed me, and I never would have known.

When I published some examples of companies engaging in forums they didn’t own, I came into contact with David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. They focus on helping companies engage on reddit. Dave had some great examples of organizations doing just that, and I thought it would make for an interesting guest post. Continue reading for insight from Dave.

I was excited to see Patrick writing about companies engaging in forums they don’t own. It inspired me to reach out to him on Twitter about companies doing the same on reddit.

Reddit is essentially the biggest forum on the web, and many companies have realized the value in monitoring reddit for mentions of their brand name. In the spirit of Patrick’s post about forums, I drummed up a few examples of companies engaging on reddit. Just like forums, reddit is a valuable place for companies to find communities related to their brand and learn more about their customers.

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TripAdvisor and YelpOnce in a while, a story will spread online of a business owner who has responded to a negative TripAdvisor or Yelp review in a pointed manner. The headlines for these stories include words and phrases like “epic,” “perfect” and “hilarious take down.”

I get it. It’s your livelihood. Maybe the reviewer was nasty or unreasonable. It was fun to give them a dose of their own medicine. To take them down a peg. But here’s a question: what’s the business value of doing so? Do you believe it nets you a profit or a loss?

Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if some restaurant and hotel owners and managers believe they will be the next “viral sensation” by responding rudely to an “unfair” Yelp or TripAdvisor review.

Good luck with that approach. You are winning the battle and losing the war.

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I was recently approached by someone who was looking for examples of company representatives that had engaged on an online forum that they didn’t own. This happens a lot, but as a friend put it, “I’ve seen too many examples to count but finding them is a real pain.”

There is a ton of value in forums, and many companies already take advantage of that value. However, others wonder how companies are doing it. To help with this, I asked around and put together a collection of solid examples.

My criteria in collecting these was pretty simple. A company representative must be engaging in an online forum that they do not own or manage. Their contribution must not be something that is simply expected. In other words, they don’t have to engage, it’s not the norm, but they chose to do so. Most importantly, they did so in a way that was accepted by the community and those who manage it.

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