Cultivating Community

I started twittering a few years ago with the simple hope of wanting to keep others updated with me. (I know, stupid. Who really cares what I am up to? Besides my mom and dad, not a who lot of folks.)

This spring when I started blogging, I had the simple goal of having a place to put my thoughts down in written form to make sense of them. (I discovered that sometimes in written form they still don’t make a lot of sense.)

Yet today I find myself completely immersed in this Web 2.0 world. Not because I am naive enough to think people care what I have to say or because I need to bring order to my random thoughts but because of something entirely different. Because of community.


I blog, I facebook, and I twitter as a way to interact with friends, old and new. I want to hear what they have to say, I want to find out what they think, I want to discover what they are doing (and sometimes eating), and I want to encourage them in their walk. Because they encourage me in mine.

If you are navigating this Web 2.0 world and you aren’t in it for the community, you are missing out, big time. If you are after followers or subscribers but not looking for friends, you will never fully embrace the power of social media.

This week, I would encourage you to take time out of your day to cultivate community online. Strive to be about something more than yourself, strive to be about engaging with and encouraging others. You will not regret it.

It is this easy:

  1. Comment on a blog post. One thing I have learned since blogging is that comments mean everything. Everything. Comments mean that people are out there reading what I have to say. Let someone know you are out there listening and that you care what they have to say.
  2. Retweet. If you read something you like and you think it will be helpful for someone else, take a minute to RT it. Use your influence to share links, blog posts, and thoughts that you found insightful. It will not go unnoticed.
  3. Call out some of your favorite tweeps on #FollowFriday. I went through a long hiatus where I didn’t participate in #FollowFriday because I thought it was kind of stupid. But last week I realized that anytime someone included me in their #FollowFriday list it would put a little bounce in my step. Yep, it is that easy to brighten my day. And so from now on I am not going let a Friday pass without spreading some #FollowFriday love.

What are other easy and practical ways that you cultivate community online?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Ali

    Actually I care about what someone like you blogs about. You are an educated, working, Christian woman who has a lot to offer. I may not be an Evangelical Christian as you are (I am Orthodox), but we are united in our faith in Christ, and you have important things to say to women–and working people–in our thirties. Your posts are about lots of things, and that is so critical. Plus I have learned how to use google reader from you!

    My two best friends in my real life universe (as opposed to the internet universe) are males, and sometimes it is nice to get a female's perspective. I have several close women friends from church, but I would say that many of them are married and pursuing a life relating to raising children, which is not my world. (I am not implying that is an unworthy calling, in the least; it is very worthy, but it is not my personal calling).

    So I appreciate your posts!

    • @Ali, Thank you for the encouragement. And yes, I guess I am evangelical 😉 I agree with you that that difference between us is small compared to what we have in common.

  • Ali

    PS I assumed you were Evangelical. I am sorry if that assumption is mistaken.

  • I care what you have to say. I may not comment on all of them because some of them clearly aren't written toward guys like me but I read them all. 🙂

    • @jason Crud! Now I am worried that I was too self depricating (sp?). I guess I just meant that I don't write it to hear myself talk or because what I have to say is important. I want to hear what others think about things that I write about. Does that make sense?

      • Oh yeah…it makes sense. I knew what you meant…I just wanted to tell you that I cared what you had to say. 🙂

  • Great post to help us remember some of the important things, Lindsey! Many thanks.

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  • I found guest posting really cool. I've done some guest posts on friends' blogs and it's a real honour to be asked. I'm hoping to get some friends to guest post on my blog soon!

    • @brunettekoala Very cool! It is a great way to introduce new voices to your audience. I would love to figure out a way to incorporate it into my routine.

  • very true– I have several blog readers but not several blog commenters 🙁 and it does make my day to see one! I am trying to be better at commenting, responding, retweeting! thanks for the reminder

    • @Brittany, I try to end my posts with a question in hopes that it will get the comment juices flowing…

  • Girl, you are right on! Comments definitely let us know that someone heard us. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could get a negative comment rather than no comment (not really, my skin isn't that thick yet!) But when you know people have stopped by and read but there are no comments, it's almost like you just told a friend a story and they nodded and walked away. That would be weird, right?

    And I also agree that the Web 2.0 world is just as important for relationships as the "real" world. I've "met" so many people I never would have known (this side of heaven) otherwise and now I can't imagine not seeing and hearing from them on a daily basis. They encourage me, sharpen me, and tickle me to death! I love it. It's definitely expanded my world and my view and I think that makes God happy. (and I'm all for that!)

    • @Cindy, a great analogy. I have some co-workers who want an audience but don't understand yet that it takes a lot of effort to build relationships online, just like in person.

  • I really enjoy reading your blog and many others! I have just recently discovered an online community through Twitter and I love it! I didn't think people really cared what I wrote on my blog as well but I am seeing how Twitter has opened up the door for readers to come and comment on my blog.
    Great post!

    • @Becky, Thanks. Twitter is a great tool for connecting. Welcome.

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  • the community aspect was my greatest surprise in blogging. it's not why i started, but it's become my reason for continuing. i cherish the relationships i've forged through my social media tools.

  • I think that online community is a silly idea. I mean who really interacts with people online much less form a relationship with them
    I kid I kid

    I love being part of an online community via twitter, blog, facebook, flickr or whatever.
    I have met and discussed and engaged with people who I never would have otherwise.

  • Tom

    Great thoughts — I agree completely. Thanks for your ministry and God bless.

  • Great thoughts – I agree completely. Thanks for your continued ministry. God bless.

  • Lori @overturemedia

    I totally enjoy reading your blog and grateful that you are cultivating online community. I admire that you find time to blog – something I hope to do more in 2010!

    • @lori, i need to blog more. been "trying" to do three times a week. usually it is two…

  • I know I am a little late to the game on this one today.
    But I had this discussion with my grandpa the other day about community.
    I did a 4 part blog series on small groups and what i thought was going on and some good and bad things about them. He read the post and then was pretty critical of my idea that we need to work more on community than on studying the bible (if you think I am crazy read the series if you would like here:

    What he continued to ask me was to define community. i thought it was a good question. We seem to throw it around a lot. You know, be apart of a community, blog or comment to bring community, but have we ever defined or talked about what community is.

    I have started to really look at what I think community is and looks like.
    I would love to hear what you and others thing community is and your definition?

    Good post BTW

    • @kyle, thanks for sharing (even if you were late in the game ;). i had read your comments yesterday on pete's "forgiveness" post and was curious about your conversation with your conversation. i agree we could all use a good definition of community. i'll be thinking on that.

  • Roy Cichon

    Community. A big 9 letter word. I have been learning lots more about it lately, how I fail at it at times, how I live for it most times, how Christ commanded it of me all the time.
    In the past I would have to say I disliked the idea of online community. And at times I still have mixed feelings about it. However, I do like to read people's blogs…I get the feeling that I am not the only one that goes through some of the things I do, even when no one I talk to face to face does.
    Thanks for sharing your life.

  • blakeunfettered

    Lindsey…once again you communicated what has been on my heart recently about having online friends and community. I love your heart. Since I am a pastor…it just makes sense…"a social network"…that is what the church is all about. So, for the record, I love it when you drop over to my blog, and I love reading the randomness and brilliance of your heart!!

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  • I usually dont post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. Kind regards from france

  • Hey just retweeted your post, community is LOVE.

    It’s definitely helped me out a lot, a nice user friendly interface like yours definitely helps a ton too. This is exactly right, and I seriously give you props for writing this. Most bloggers get obsessed in the SEO game that they forget to write and communicate to people. Instead they focus all their time and energy for search engines.

    Good thing Google just changed there algorithm. (haha they gotta start writing for people)

    Any who I’ve noticed a huge change in my traffic since I started commenting on other websites. My blog has only been up since January 1st, 2011 but the traffic has been growing. January I got 354 views, this month I’m on track to break 1,000 views. There’s no secret, it’s really just taking the time to read the authors post and then read others comments and respond, it’s not enough to just leave 1 comment and then leave, you’ve got to get involved and show your actually listening and caring.

    Here’s the tip I would suggest since I’ve seen results myself:

    When you read a post, thank the author, agree and also disagree. Authors are used to getting praise so when you disagree with them on something it sparks their attention and you’ll notice that their response to you is much longer than anyone else’. So that’s a good tip to get on their radar.

    Next thing you do is skim down the post and if you see anyone else’ questions that haven’t been answered and you feel you can answer them or at least give your opinion, then do so. It shows the other members of the community that you actually read what they had to say and responded in a timely and caring manner. This makes them feel important (because they are) and also makes you look good and credible, especially if you give a good answer.

    Since I’ve done those two things I’ve seen my traffic triple. I’m still a newb and wouldn’t consider myself a guru but I’ve seen the results so it’s something to mention.

    You’ve got a great looking website though. 133 likes, 12,346 rss/twitter subscribers/followers (Impressive)

    28 Comments already on this’re doing your thing Lindsey..keep it up!


    -Chris Alta