It is a mistake to approach today's online communities the same way you approached them one or two years ago.
THIS IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE CHANGED.
Read that again. A rapidly moving group discovered the Internet, and then....... WHAT?
FROZE? STOPPED THEIR ENDLESS QUEST TO LEARN MORE & DO MORE?
AR's early days were more "engaging" as far as I was concerned. But then again, this was true for ARPANET, as well as COMPUSERVE, and AOL, and MySpace, to name a few...
Here is $.02 that is worth a Million Bucks: (I am preaching to myself as much as anybody)
"Early Adopters" as a group are inquisitive, intelligent, passionate, and ask lots of questions. They try things (and they buy things that pass the 'testing phase' - even recommend them ).
"Early Majority" market members are more cautious, and have less ambition, but still want to discover and play with new things (but they only buy what though leaders recommend)
Majority" or "Mass Market" members are not the same as the first two. They buy because it is expected. They go through the motions more than the first few groups. Most of these buy the basic level and not the upgrades (whether the capital is cash or conversation or emotional investment or passion or commitment). Some are more accomplished and will buy upgrades. These are good people, and they clearly have more money, as a group than the first two groups. But Mass market types stay more in the 'safe' zones. These are not generally the kind that the first two groups hang out with. The first two groups will probably be moving on to whatever is next... The early stages of the move may include lamentations about what was...
It was all so wonderful, once upon a time, to launch out into the online world.... now it has become more 'workaday'. More ordinary. More purposeful and focused with less passion and joy.
I was just thinking, the other day, that I needed to really revamp my entire online presentation to engage and mesh with the evolved market. I am at AR, Reliberation, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flikr, PhotoBucket, BlogSpot, Wordpress, and more. I no longer participate in AOL Groups, Yahoo Groups, Compuserve groups (among others). Although I practically invented the Internet (LOL) and am a master of SEO, and am making all the connections, my message and effort is not returning the result desired.
As a market evolves, the packaging and pitch has to evolve. Anybody, including myself, who is trying to find and engage the 'old' AR will have to go harder/faster/louder until we fall off the edge...
Maybe it's time to come up with a NEW message or approach to engage the 'NEW' Online World.