Jason Calacannis writes a straightforward post about why he is a "Community CEO". Its short, to the point, and gives a concrete example. Its here.
I take some jibes at the office for blogging, twittering and delicousing. Because when you have a large, active community like Jason does you can leverage it for amazing benefits. I'll admit the value isn't huge for me yet, but I've only really been at it for 6 months.
In 6 months I have over 60 followers on Twitter (most of which are new people in my life and in aligned professions) and blog has started to get some comments and readers. My readers and followers grow every month.
All I do is try to provide valuable insights, write consistently, and participate in other people's conversations. The 2-4 hours a week I put in might grow my community and become a unique professional asset over time. The consistency keeps me well read and directs to me to form my opinions on digital marketing, which often find their way into my work at the office. Actually paying back dividends on the time I invested.
Faith in the benefits of a large, active community and a long sited view justifies the time I put in for me personally. But brands would benefit from the same perspective.
Even if your a company, you can't write a check big enough and buy a community that cares about your brand, its built over time with consistency and value. I know that's not easy, but the upside is that it shouldn't cost a lot either. And while your building you'll probably recognize some benefits you weren't expecting.