w: C.C. Chapman

You Can Build a Community, But You Will Never Control It

Little People

Since the earliest days of the Internet, communities have been set up for a variety of topics.

Some are formed organically as like-minded people naturally find one another. Others are formed by brands or organizations around their products or services.

I’ve been a part of all kinds of communities over the years.

Doesn’t matter if it was a Usenet group formed around Prince bootlegs or a private group on Facebook on social journalism. At some point the community was formed and then it became what it is today based on the members of that community.

Where people fall down all the time is that they think they can control a community. The most successful ones can be guided and directed, but at the end of the day the members are the ones that will determine if it is what they want or not.

Especially in today’s world where we are only a click away from the next distraction/destination. Where we spend our time online must provide some form of value to us.

Recently, I was told what I chose to share in a community was not appropriate. I laughed a bit because once again I was watching someone make the mistake of thinking that just because they brought a group together that they could control how we interacted with each other.

In this case it sparked a conversation of other members helping each other. Exactly what a community should be all about.

The best communities want the members to interact with each other. Get to know one another beyond why they’ve assembled. That is how real friendships and lasting relationships are formed.

Being empowered to ask questions of the gathered crowd and collectively share knowledge around the given topic is the glue that will keep the community going.

I’m not an anarchist and know that you need rules and enforcement in the world to keep the basic sanity of life around you. I’m not saying otherwise.

This is why the role of a community manager is so critical. They are there to be more of a cruise director than a drill sergeant and help keep the community from going off the rails.

No matter what kind of community you set up, it is the members who will determine if it grows and thrives. How the creators interact and work with those members is vital.

Let them interact. Let them share. Encourage them getting to know one another better.

It will help you and the community in the long run.

420 words

12 responses

  • March 20, 2014

    The difference is between companies that create a group where they’re afraid of the potential, or embrace the potential. And yes, sometimes the potential in a community is curiosity or dissident. Especially in an online social community, the group will come up with a median conversation and then self-regulate the over-and-under. Like you mentioned, the community managers should be like a cruise director. They should see if they can help the “unders” and calm the “overs” but without destroying content, or more importantly, the enthusiasm of its members to create that content.

    • March 21, 2014

      If a community is nothing but cheerleading, it is rarely useful 🙂

      Open, constructive conversations are where the good stuff happens.

  • March 21, 2014

    Great post C.C. and I agree – trying to control people is a fool’s errand (and actually always has been). I am fascinated, both in my personal and professional lives, how much you stand to gain from ceding control and how much you limit potential by insisting on control. Control is very expensive – if you want to be able to tell employees what to do you either have to pay them a lot or spend a lot of money on ‘control functions’ to ensure they are monitored, accounted for, etc. If you want friends and want to control them, you are going to find meek friends who don’t have much to contribute but will follow along.

    Having said all that, I also think there are many types of communities and if someone starts a community, they have every right to decide where the boundaries are but when they do, they will have to live with the consequences. If your boundaries are too restrictive, people will go elsewhere. Community management is all about balancing the needs of the community (and where they want to take the conversation) with the needs of the community owners/sponsors/organizers (if that exists – it doesn’t always).

    • March 21, 2014

      Thanks for chiming in. I KNOW you understand this space.

      Setting rules and guidelines IS necessary for sure. Where it gets crazy for me is when a community is rolling along and THEN they change. That always causes waves that rarely lead to good things.

      I like how you said “control is expensive” and it isn’t just expensive in the form of dollars. SO right!

  • by Lauren
    March 21, 2014

    A community is a two-way dialogue and experience. There needs to be expectation setting. You should not change a communities expectations or boundaries without first requesting community feedback or offering explanation. There is an invisible social contract in place and it is the responsibility of the community manager to interpret the pact and educate about the guardrails without disrupting the entire ecosystem. Control is not possible. Influence is possible, but only with established trust and communication. Any community must be prepared to evolve and understand that this trajectory is not decided by them, but community members. Must be able to adapt.

    • March 24, 2014

      I KNEW you’d be able to say it better than I tried to.

      The two-way piece is something I need to keep in mind when I talk about this in the future because it is crucial and often forgotten about.

  • March 22, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more. I love the analogy, so I made this for you.
    Great post as always, C.C.

  • March 23, 2014

    You might not be able to control it directly but you can definitely GUIDE IT. This is what gives different communities different online ‘personalities.’

    • March 24, 2014

      I agree FULLY.

      Especially if the community is brought together by a brand or organization. Then you need some guidance or it will never progress forward or could end up going off the rails.

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C.C. Chapman


Sketch of C.C. Chapman by Hey Instigator!There are many aspects OF who I am and what I do. Putting together THIS PAGE is one of my least favorite things to write, because talking about myself is not my idea of a fun time.

When asked what I do my current answer is, “I create, teach and motivate people to do more good in the world.”

Of course, that doesn’t cover all that I work on professionally and personally, so that is why I created this page.

Official bios and head shots can be found below.

Who is C.C. Chapman? I’m a…

Marketing Consultant

With over twenty years of marketing, online media and community building experience I have the skills and experience to help your organization no matter the size. Previous clients have included The Coca-Cola Company, American Eagle Outfitters and HBO.

I focus on social good/impact marketing, content marketing and brand strategy. My favorite clients are NGOs, nonprofits or brands looking to make a difference in the world.

Feel free to double check my credentials on LinkedIn.


I’m constantly writing and always working on my next book. You may have read some of my published works including Amazing Things Will Happen, Content Rules or 101 Steps to Making Video Like a Pro.

Freelance writing or citizen reporting assignments excite me.


If I had to choose a style, I’d say my photos are a mix of documentary, travel and lifestyle photography. While I may not enjoy taking head shots, I love to shoot faces. I rarely go anywhere without a camera in my hand and I’ve been fortunate to see my photos on the pages of Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal.

I’m currently shooting with a Samsung NX1 and a Chroma 4k Drone.

My photos can be found on Instagram, Flickr and 500px.

Keynote Speaker

I’m happiest when on stage educating and inspiring an audience of any size, anywhere in the world.

I have spoken at everything from large international events, corporate retreats and at special gatherings of unique individuals. If you need someone who will inspire, educate and entertain your audience I’d love to chat.

Advocate & Volunteer

I believe in using my skills, time and voice to champion causes that are important to me. I’m especially interested in anything military, dogs or children focused.

I’m currently the President of the Board at Wediko, a member of the ONE Girls & Women Advisory Board, serve on the board of The Hockey Foundation and recently joined the No Kid Hungry Social Council.


I’ve developed and taught courses for Lynda.com, CreativeLive and Treehouse. I’m also an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Bentley University and hoping to do more teaching in the future.


On top of all that I’m a proud life long New Englander who was born and raised in New Hampshire, but now resides outside of Boston.

I married my high school sweetheart, have two amazing kids and love being a dad.

I’ve been online since 1989, began blogging in 2002 and podcasting in 2004.

Previous endeavors I created include Accident Hash, Passion Hit TV, Digital Dads and The Advance Guard.

Tattoos, travel and the outdoors turn me on. There are fewer things more perfect than a well done cocktail, a delicious meal or live art of any sort. I love my GORUCK, Field Notes and am a proud Misfit.

To understand me is to understand that I try to live a purposeful life every day that is full of adventure, love and making the world around me a better place for all.

Official Bio

C.C. Chapman describes himself as a New England raised storyteller, explorer and humanitarian. Others have described him as a thought leader in the online marketing space, a grounded futurist and one the nicest guy on the Internet. Over the years of his career he has worked with a variety of clients including Nike, HBO, American Eagle Outfitters, ONE, Verizon FiOS and The Coca-Cola Company.

He is the co-author of the International bestseller Content Rules and is also the author of Amazing Things Will Happen. He travels the world speaking in front of  audiences to do more in the world and how to understand content marketing better.  C.C. has taught classes for Lynda.com, CreativeLive and now as an adjunct professor at Bentley University (where he also graduated from).

C.C. is an advocate who speaks about building passionate communities and the strategic values of content-based marketing. He is a Samsung Imagelogger, the original ONE Dad and a UN Foundation Social Good Fellow. As a storyteller for hire, his work has appeared on the pages of Rolling Stone and The Wall Street Journal.

C.C. serves as the Chairman of the Board at Wediko and serves on the board of The Hockey Foundation. He happily lives in the woods outside of Boston with his loving family. Find out more at CC-Chapman.com


Fun Bio

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more multi-faceted or enthusiastic creative/strategic partner in the marketing and content creation fields. This greatly hails from C.C.’s unstoppable combination of marketing experience and savvy (which a great many professionals claim to have), and incalculably valuable “on the ground” knowledge and insight as an influential content creator himself (which a great many professionals do not). The result is a best-of-both-worlds mashup of marketing expertise.

C.C. Chapman sports the pro cred to be a talker (working closely with such clients as American Eagle Outfitters, Coca-Cola, HBO and Warner Bros.), and the passion and gumption to be a doer (creating content for the emerging Online Dad market, marketing professionals, music fans and more). He’s helped create, manage and execute ambitious online and offline marketing campaigns for startups and multinationals — and has the invaluable good sense to know which outreach strategies work with audiences, and which ones fall flat.

He authoritatively speaks your language. He speaks your CMO’s language. Most important, he’s fluent in your market’s language. It’s a killer double-chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination. Contact C.C. to learn how he can help your organization achieve its business goals. There’s even more to know about C.C. Chapman, if you want to read it — and you should. C.C.’s skills are an embarrassment of riches.


Head Shots

CC-Chapman-Cubelean     CC-AYASummit

CC Chapman Headshot Vertical    CC-armscrossed


I’m involved with a lot of organizations and clients. I believe in being completely transparent and open about everything I’m working on. I’ll do my best to keep this updated and of course will clearly disclose relationships in any post that require them.

I am open to being pitched and invited on press trips.

Companies do send me items in the hopes that I will review it or share with my community. If you send me something it does not guarantee a review.

With that in mind, my mailing address is:

9 C Medway Road #117
Milford, MA

Current relationships include:

  • Verizon FiOS provides me with service in exchange for a monthly post on technology of my choosing
  • Member of the Verizon Wireless VZWBuzz Influencer Team which means I receive electronics to review and experiences to take part in.


Affiliate links are used whenever they are available when linking to products of any sort.

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