Lee over at commoncraft.com points out some terrific points about Social Design vs. Community Building.
Community building is not about tools
Community building is not about tools like message boards and blogs. Community building is about people- about developing trust, relationships and emotional connections. Community is more tool-agnostic than you might think- if the people want to create a community, it will happen.
Tools facilitate community, they don?t define it
On the web, people need tools to come together. Before an online community can emerge or be served, tools must be in place to manage the interaction.
The goal should not be to form the community around a tool, but to form a tool around the community. Success depends on appropriate matching of the two.
Social Design is the step before ?Community?
Social Design in not Community Building. Social Design is the process of creating the appropriate environment for community to develop. It?s about designing and implementing social tools that match with the needs and goals of the organization and community members (often before they arrive). With appropriate tools in place, community building can begin with a strong foundation.