If your organization has little to no community and you’re interested in building one, we’re here to show you how. In this article, we will be sharing our custom step-by-step methodology on how to build a community. Our custom methodology is based on research from our Community Marketing Tribe Lab dedicated to learning how communities think through social psychology.
We’ve outlined the 4 steps that will help you to establish a healthy foundation to build your community, as well as guidance to build the tools you’ll need to help it grow. Feel free to contact us if you’ve got any questions.
Establish Your Passion and Vision
To build your community, first you’ll need a healthy foundation starting with your vision and passion. In our article, Understanding the Key Components of a Strong Community, we outlined their definitions. Simply put, your passion is the fanatic love of something which brings your members together. Your vision is a goal you want to mobilize your members to achieve together. In both cases, the more specific you are the more aligned your community will be.
Has to be positioned well with your brand and can’t feel forced. No hard fast rule, but there must no more than one degree of separation between your passion and your product or service.
Representative of the values your product holds
Timeless passion - can’t be a trend or a temporary fad
Passion is integrated in the way your company runs - production, customer service and product/service
It is one, very clear passion
Can’t be far-fetched, such as a pet food company with a vision to save the world
Vision contributes to society beyond your product/service
Isn’t a destination that can be reached or ever completed
Aligns with your company values
Has to relate to your passion
Recruit and empower your core Tribesmen
Now that you have your passion and vision, it's time to find the people that align with them. Search online and find other groups with common interests. You should also look within your own network and social circle for individuals who seem to have similar interest as you. Look through your personal network and see if anyone you know is passionate about your vision and passion that align with your organization.
You're looking for approximately 3 to 5 individuals who share your passion. At this stage, it’s more important that you find people who resonate with the passion rather than the vision. These individuals must be passionate about the topic and to qualify them, find out if they spend their personal time indulging in that passion. Perhaps after work, they like to meet up with others with similar passions or they like to go online to see the latest news on that topic. Maybe they even have their own personal activities to do with that passion, for example, if the product is dog chow, maybe they volunteer at the SPCA. Whatever the case, you know that the individual is deeply invested.
This is a good group of individuals to test your vision on seeing as they will be the ones that become your Tribesman down the line. Get their honest opinion on it. Adjust accordingly if there is an overwhelming majority who are against your vision. Does it ring true to them? Would they work together to achieve it? Is it something that moves them? These are some of the ways to verify your vision is sound.
Do Your Research and Educate yourselves on the native language
Does the community exist already or do you have to create your own? Now that you know your passion and vision, see if any community already exists online or offline. Ask the people you identified in step 2.
If there are other communities like yours, spend the time to investigate. What you're trying to do is understand the native language of this community. How do they talk? What are they interested in? How frequently do they engage with each other? What are their pains? What are their hopes? What do they need that they don't currently have?
After you have a good sense of the community and you feel comfortable, reach out and join the conversation. Understand the keywords and language used within that specific community. Notice what platforms they're using and why they've chosen them. This information will greatly inform the type of content you'll be creating in your communication plan. It's important that you recognize how to speak respectfully to others in the community and understand the values and culture that already exist.
On the other hand, if there is no community yet, look to similar communities with similar values who could buy into your passion and vision. Find any commonalities between those communities that neighbor your passion but don't exactly fit. Go through the same process and introduce yourself when you feel comfortable with their native language.
Establish the communication plan
The communication plan is no easy task. The first three steps provide you with the foundational information to build your communication plan. Your plan should outline a plan of action to build the foundation of your organization’s community. It will include what type of content you’ll be sharing that fits within two categories.
The first category is usefulness, the second is entertainment. Usefulness is intended to attract new members to your community. Entertainment aims to keep members engaged in your community. Both are critical to your success. You begin by creating content purposefully and strategically in order to grow your community. The plan should also outline the frequency of which you post and share your content. It will define which platform is most suitable.
Lastly, your communications plan should give your community’s leaders the rules and regulations of your community. It will outline their responsibilities as well as the course of action to take in various scenarios. The goal of the plan is to be intentional and thoughtful about the way you create and build this community.
Based on your research, you should be informed about what will be considered useful content versus entertaining content. As well, what type of content in each category will create the most engagement.
This topic in itself is a whole other blog post. We’ll be writing one shortly on how to develop this in detail.
These four steps will help you establish a strong foundation for a community. Spend a good amount of time on each step. This process can take up to six months to execute properly. Don't rush the process, the foundation of your community will pay you back tenfold when you do it right. It’ll also do the opposite if you do it wrong.
You don't want to start off with a bad reputation. It's easy to come off as inauthentic during this process, so be sure to be very considerate of the community that already exists. Nobody likes someone barging into their community and trying to act like they know everything. The goal here is to create friendships and partnerships with others who share a similar passion.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. If you ever need any help with the building of passion please feel free to reach out to our team of experts who can help you from just getting started all the way to make your community even stronger. If you want to learn more, it might be valuable to read our community marketing strategy posts
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