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In today’s world the opportunities to communicate and network are mind boggling. Social networks are continuing to grow in size. The number of popular social networks is also continuing to grow. Standing alone, these conditions make it very difficult for your organization to focus your community (prospects, clients, fans, etc.) into any one area on these networks. Creating your own community or even just a blog is not going to cut it on its own. It takes creating a culture of community to effectively unite your community together into one place to help you reach the goals of your organization much faster than any dollar on marketing that you will ever spend.

So what does it mean to create a culture of community for your organization in the digital age?

It means closing the loop for all of your interactions

(i.e. events, meetings, phone calls, etc.) by fully supplementing physical interaction with digital interaction and vis versa.

It is an expectation created for everyone that makes up your community

to use a common digital community experience outside the live interaction.

It means defining a purpose and reason for your community

to engage, share and connect outside of any regular interaction.

It requires integration with common communication tools and networks

that your community interacts with on a day-to-day basis (i.e. email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

A great example of this is one of our clients, Pine Street Presbyterian Church. They have built a culture of community in several ways:

Principle 1: Closing the loop for all interactions

At the end of a sermon or group meeting there is a follow up question or discussion posted on their Social HubSite (http://pinestreet.socialhubsite.com) so their members can share their voice.

Principle 2: Creating an expectation of usage

Pine Street has seminars for all of their members on a regular basis to show them new tools, give usage ideas and even just remind them of key features such as private messaging with other members.

Principle 3: Defining a purpose and reason for the community

They have put the purpose of their community right in the center of their online community and consistently publish discussions and content that are relevant to their mission. For example, there is a new question of the week posted in their online community that pertains to the recent sermon. It is sent out via email at 3pm the same day of the sermon and their members can share their thoughts and ideas on the topic. This is also a great example of Principle 1: Closing the loop for all interactions.

Principle 4: Interaction with common communication tools and networks

Inside of their community notifications are set to deliver messages and posts via email, member social networking accounts, social networking pages, text message and much more. In this sense, their online community truly serves as a hub to all of the members. They don’t have to worry about remembering to go there. It is integrated with the way they communicate on a daily basis.

In order for you to effectively unite your community, build trust among those around you and get people in your community to take action all of these principles must be working together simultaneously. Remember, people will never remember your organization by what you do and how you do it, but by how you made them feel. It is very core of branding and defining who you are as an organization. The sense of community you create is the foundation to everything you do.

If you are interested in building a community for your organization, please reach out to me directly and we can get the ball rolling. Click here to send an email or call my office at 717-657-7018.

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