Creating passionate community is one of the most powerful things you can do for your tribe. People need outlets for their passions. They need other people to share their passions with. They need a platform on which they can express their opinions and creations with others. They need moderators to corral them and to keep discussions in-line. They need a leader to rally around, someone with vision to guide them toward a better future. And they need tools to help them accomplish their goals and move toward the better future.
We need community. We all require belonging. We need groups of like-minded others because they give us something to be a part of that is larger than ourselves. It feels good to contribute to the group. It feels good to be rewarded by the group. It feels good to be acknowledged for our contributions to the group. It feels good to be appreciated by the group. It feels good to appreciate the group. Belonging to a community isn’t an option for us. It is in our DNA. Since we all need to belong to something, we should take advantage of this by creating community through our own creations and teachings.
Teach what you know. If you think you know a subject well, and haven’t taken the opportunity to teach it yet, do it. You’ll get to know it on a whole, new level. By teaching, we have to trace our steps and break-down exactly what we do to be successful in the endeavor. What is it that we do differently? What are the methods? What are the steps? What is it that separates you from the competition? What makes you great at teaching? Much of being a great teacher is based upon personality, style and passion. Everyone loves to have a teacher passionate about the subject, like aviation history. They are the ones we remember the best & the ones we look back upon with fond memories. A passionate teacher transfers that passionate confidence onto his students, who usually capture it themselves. A passionate, engaging teacher creates passionate, engaged students. The teacher also creates community surrounding the subject matter because the teacher is at the center of the action. The community can be live and in-person or digital or both. Typically, multiple types of community are best because the more opportunities you give people to talk about the subject they’re passionate about with others, the better off they are. This helps to spread the passion and confidence to others, usually causing them to buy more. Few things help to catalyze sales than a cohort of people passionate and enthusiastic about a topic. All that’s left for the teacher in the center is to determine what she can sell them next. What else are they missing? What’s next? Note how much easier it is to keep people within the community and keep them coming back again and again when they’re already enthusiastic for the topic. There’s no work trying to convince them to care. Trying to convince people to care is some of the hardest, most thankless work you can do. Passionate people do not need convincing to care about their topic. They’re already there. The only thing passionate people need are groups of other passionate people to hang around so they can create and share together. Nothing can stop groups of passionate, enthusiastic people on a shared mission they believe in.
You wonder what else this group of people will need? They will need guidance, confidence and tools to help them build the community. They need an attractive character to lead them, someone with great team building skills that has experience leading large groups. This leader also needs to be brimming with confidence and possess the ability to transfer it onto others. He’ll need to strike a line in the sand, telling the community what he stands for and what he stands against. This polarity actually helps to bring people that agree with his values closer to him than they otherwise would be. Those on board with him become even tighter to him while those who disagree with him are likely to leave altogether. The ones who stay, stay because they agree so deeply with this values. With such definitive alignment and tight bonds, there’s no limit to what they might do for the community.
The tools the community will need are tangible and intangible. Tangible tools include software, sell sheets, cheat sheets, and the ability to share them all with new members of the community. Remember that community members will be teaching one another if the group is set up that way. This is a large part of what good community building is all about: members teaching members. Think of teaching tools. What do teachers need? Get those. Note they don’t need that much. A laptop or iPad. Internet. A projector or an Apple TV to connect to a display. Some software to go live and to record the training. That’s about it for tangible teaching tools. You need less than you think to spread your message.
What about intangible teaching tools? You need talking points. You need to know the main points you wish to express and then know the stories and bullet points that support them. You need to own your material. No one else will teach in the style that you will. This is a good thing. Be you when you teach. Seek to teach them. Then, transform them. Then, transact with them. You’re on a Mission to take people to the Promised Land. When you teach them, you’re moving them from where they are to where they want to be. It is a powerful migration. To move or be motivated to move, people often need to be in pain. Your teaching can help soften their pain or even eliminate it all-together. If you can eliminate pain from peoples’ lives, they’ll love you for it.
Don’t underestimate peoples’ pain. Have you noticed when people search, they’re usually in some sort of pain that they want solved? It could be an upcoming move. It could be a health ailment. It could be a home improvement project that’s a continuous thorn in their side. Whatever it is they’re going online to do their own research in order to solve it. Companies spend billions of dollars on Search ads to try to align their product or service with these searches. They want to be the solution these searchers find when they go looking. If you can place the right ad in front of them at the right time and give them value upfront without expectation of compensation, you can land a customer quickly. It is all about solving their problem fast. A community that works together to solve problems fast is a powerful one.
Despite these tight bonds, the community needs to allow for dissent. A community with no dissent is a top-down, Soviet-style structure where might makes right. There’s no room for this in the modern, more democratic community structure. Companies need to allow for dissent because they need to know where they’re failing. They need to know where the product is weak. They need to know how they can improve it. They need to know where their market stands. Communities are excellent listening grounds for companies to learn about how their product is actually being used. Product managers and marketers are wise to participate in them. Ideally, founders and C-level types are also engaging in the community, whether they’re a part of a startup or a seasoned company. There is always something to learn from the marketplace. While it can hurt to hear a customer badmouthing your product, especially in its early stages, try to listen with an open mind. Hear them out. Gauge whether what they say lines up with what other people say about the product. Then, proceed accordingly. If your product is a part of a startup, you may think about rewarding people simply for reviewing the product. It is hard to gain attention early on in the product lifecycle. Whatever you do, get the product into prospects’ and customers’ hands ASAP early and as often as you can.
Keep community members engaged. Nothing builds community like an actively engaged membership that helps each other out, offers advice, and solves problems together. A community is based on network effects. The more actively engaged members there are, the more powerful the network or community becomes. People need places to vent, to be inspired, to laugh, to problem solve, to ask questions, to answer questions, to show off, to give crap, to take crap, to listen, to be themselves surrounding common causes. If companies can be at the forefront of all this with their communities — both online and in-person — the better they’ll be. Bringing passionate people together to foster community is one of the most powerful things businesses can do.