build a community

A strong connection with a nurtured community can activate others.

The reason to build a community is to have closer ties with others. When it comes to asking, it becomes easier as there is a continuous trade in value.

When you take a responsibility and lead, things do happen. You have to build a community, to action a community.

I have looked at a number of articles that look at the role of building communities (for instance, have a read of why it’s better to feed your community, rather than thinking you have continually grow it). A large proportion of The Content Revolution looks at the role of building a community. This article looks at the evidence that is out there where there has to be a strong connection and affiliation to cause an action.

 

The Alternative

What is the alternative? The alternative is the get rich quick, short cut to success and ‘ways to’ game the system posts that are awash on your timeline everyday. The past 48 hours I have seen ads telling me to write a book to make more customers, build 1,000 subscribers everyday and Elite PPC (whatever that is). Everything is centred from a place of take, selfishness and short-termism.

Build A Community

 

A Vested Interest In A Community, Creates Action

When there is shared mindfulness, it leads to shared responsibility.

This is something that regional press title Manchester Evening News (MEN) did after the Manchester Arena attack in May. MEN set up the We Stand Together Fund with the anticipated hope to raise £250,000. The fund has so far resulted in over £6m (it achieved £1m in the first 24 hours). The money is to be distributed to the families of those killed and injured in the terrorist attack.

The reason I am highlighting this is that it represents an initiative started by an organisation (MEN) that has a continually vested interest within a community. This led to an action that produced a return above and beyond their initial expectations.

Whilst brands are allocating budgets away from regional press and into the safety net of social media channels that don’t have any affiliation within communities, something holds true. A regional newspaper has far stronger links within a community, rather than thinking that the answer is to always target a demographic group via Facebook. The value of community is when there is a real sense of shared empathy.

Keeping the regional newspaper focus still intact, I spoke to Business Editor from the Bournemouth Daily Echo, Darren Slade on the role of having a vested interest in the local business community.

build a community
Bournemouth Daily Echo.
Darren Slade.

Darren explained, “Regional newspapers have been around a long time – 117 years in the case of the Echo – so everybody locally knows them.”

“You also see our billboards outside newsagents many times on any journey around town. But our strength is not just that brand recognition – it is that we have been making connections in that community for all that time, whether it is taking pictures at schools or running amateur football and cricket results. Our target demographic has basically been everybody in that community.”

“In our area we have got a strong start-up scene and a big creative and digital sector, as well as very well-known brands (such as Sunseeker, Lush, Farrow & Ball etc). I have been keen to form connections in those areas, and we launched three regular platforms to that end: Monday Start-Up, Wednesday Boss and Friday Digital.”

“The people we write about often take a photo of the printed paper and share that on social media, which suggests to me that being written about in print still carries some value in the community.”

 

How Does All This Relate To You?

This is relevant for your business. You can foster a community where there is a connection and not just continually deciding to throw money at a social channel to hopefully get strangers to buy.

The whole reason to build is to create an incentive to action. In an article from March, I highlighted that you cannot just have an altruistic angle to just inform. What you create has to align with what you do, in order for others to interact and help you pay your bills. An approach with a big heart, but no strategy will not create a positive outcome; click here to have a read.

A way to look at leading a community is inviting others to your barbeque where your business is the food. It may start off with good intention and the vision of everyone coming round and enjoying themselves and mixing with others. However, if you have a couple of chicken wings and a few burgers and not enough to go round, then people will leave, before you have got the Dark & Stormies out. A meagre contribution means no community growth.

 

Actioning Others – Another Example

To build a community, you need a vested interest, to action others.

This is what Flavourly are doing. The Scottish based, mail order craft ale impresarios take this very seriously. The people who buy craft ales, naturally do it because of the craft that went into it. The Flavourly audience want to discover, taste, champion and buy independence.

build an audience

 

The Flavourly magazine that accompanies each box highlights the beers that are distributed to their community each month. This shines the spotlight on the brewers who are responsible for what people are drinking within articles in the magazine. This helps create a much richer experience when a brand takes a deep-rooted interest within its industry and the people who play a role within it and what customers are drinking. It makes things more personal, when the beers you are drinking have presence on a page you are reading.

The way that Flavourly are getting their community to action is by recognising that their audience love the art of discovery, so they cater for this and do it consistently. Whether this is sampling for a local audience or regular magazine, Flavourly are enabling others to participate.

You have to continually provide for your network, so when the time is right to ask, people do not feel uncomfortable. The best way for you to grow your audience and to build a community is to make yourself a valuable participant within the communities that exist. Whether this is a regional newspaper or a business that has decided to take on the approach of a media outlet by delivering communication to a targeted audience on a consistent basis, when you have a vested interest, it encourages action.

 

Some Points To Take On Board Your Side

Some things to think about:

  • taking a stoic stance you can build stronger connections.

 

  • if a hidden agenda starts poking through (it’s all about you, not them), people will see it when something is forced.

 

 

  • know the people who are coming on board your community ie. happy to leave their email. Ask them why they subscribed, how they found out about you, what they do?

 

  • conversations and contributions (in someone else’s space) can see a return when you are continuous.

 

  • bring your natural voice so that people see your business as part of the fabric for what they want to be part of.

 

  • the whole objective is to amplify relationships, not one off transactions

 

  • why keep things in closed groups and think that the mastermind group or the networking group that allows one person from a p profession has to be seen as a privilege? Closed groups will always remain smaller. If the group is open, a community has a better chance to grow.

 

Lets Round Up

When it comes to actioning and mobilising others, when they can see that you take on board a clear role of authority and ownership, this surpasses any thoughts of thinking that asking people to take your word for it, but cannot show proof, is the route to growing a community.

The businesses that will take advantage of the opportunities available are those who are sharing, finding, collaborating and contributing within different spaces. It is time to build, to then ask people to action.

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