Community isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been around for centuries, well even since the caveman days. Our ancestors relied on community building to hunt, eat, and survive. I think sometimes as community managers we get so bogged down on the day to day tactics of building a community from the ground-up for our respected organizations that we forget this sometimes. At least, I know I do.
The reality is community is all around of us. Every single person wants to find their tribe or that special place where they belong. That sense of community. We can learn so much just from our day to day experiences and interactions.
I was reminded of this when I heard a recent talk from Matthew Brimer, who co-founded General Assembly and more recently Daybreaker. In particular, Daybreaker fascinates me. It’s essentially massive, super awesome dance parties in the morning. It’s community in it’s purest form.
There are some many lessons that brands can learn from Matt and how he built both of these super successful communities.
Cultivate your early adopters into community evangelists
As a community manager, your early adopters are crucial to your success. You should do everything in your power to build relationships with them, connect them with one another and turn them into evangelists.
For Daybreaker, this started with doing things that didn’t scale. Community isn’t something you automate. It requires a time investment. It requires building relationships. It’s hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s often the little things – like taking the time to connect members to one another and 1:1 meetings- that end up separating a fledgling community into a thriving one.
Give more than you take. Be insanely useful.
As a community manager, you should be offering value anywhere you can. That’s most often in the form of connecting people to one another (i.e. be a connector) and supporting your members (i.e. offering powerful experiences and exceptional customer service).
This should hopefully make sense. After all, no one wants to be a part of a community that takes more than the member receives. Yet, so often this is where branded communities fall so flat. It’s too one-sided towards the company’s needs and they forget about why their members joined in the first place. For example, if you constantly try to upsell community members additional products or upsells to higher plans, eventually your community members will get tired of it and go elsewhere.[quote]”No one wants to be a part of a community that takes more than the member receives. Yet, so often this is where branded communities fall so flat. It’s too one-sided towards the company’s needs and they forget about why their members joined in the first place.”[/quote]
Establish clear purpose and community values early on.
People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s all about working to establish a shared vision that all your members buy into.
Just like people want to buy into a community that’s bigger than themselves. They also want to be apart of something special and meaningful that not everyone else can be in. Some of the most tight-knit communities are the ones that are hard to get into. For example, Mensa.
Bridge online interactions with offline events
While you can create the community online, you can’t fully cement relationships in the community without an offline element. In the traditional sense, this would include meet-ups, workshops and conferences. However, even digital events like Google Hangouts on Air or Skype mastermind groups can go a long way in connecting people in more meaningful ways where they are no longer just a static avatar on the page.
While it’s certainly not easy (if it was everyone would do it), this is how to harness the power of community to build a really strong brand.