Are You Using the Superpowers of Online Community in Your Business?
- by Urszula Richards
- 26 February 2019
Online communities have superpowers.
Combining the online medium (ie the internet), with the interaction of community is very powerful.
These superpowers are hiding in plain sight, and it wasn't until I was talking with Sharon Kaibel that the interview process helped me unpack some of these superpowers. We dug deep into how they can provide extraordinary ROI for businesses. Here I explore some of these superpowers a little more.
You join an online community on purpose.
Unlike other communities such as your local community where you live and don't take any action to join, in an online community there is a specific initial reason for you being there. By definition, there is something you will have in common with every other person, and generally, you will know what that thing is.
The fact that you take an action to join makes you tap into the raw emotions of hope (your reason for joining) & connection (the solution). Powerful stuff.
Fancy Word - Important Superpower
Asynchronous means not happening at the same time.
Online communications provide a permanent record - the written word, video, images ... which people can jump in on and contribute to, even if they were not there when it originally occurred. Sometimes you can join in on a conversation which started years ago!
You can reach an unlimited rather than very limited number of people, who can join the conversation at any time as long as it remains online.
Online connections are independent of location. This may seem so obvious that you may be wondering if it is worth even mentioning.
It is. We can now find and connect with people who we would have never met before.
These connections and shared knowledge, and the speed in which we can find someone anywhere in the world to help us with a problem we are having right now, can be mind blowing.
The instant communication capabilities of the internet, together with internet access reaching most places in the world, means that a response to an event can occur in an instant.
Think about what this can mean in a business context. Reputation and incident management on the down side, and leveraging an opportunity or event on the up side.
Not being prepared or engaged for an instant response to your client or consumer community when one is urgently needed, can kill a business. Having a strong customer community can mitigate the worst mistakes and inconveniences, with the community being a part of the solution.
A Great Equalizer
Connection First - Prejudice Later
"On the internet, no one knows you're a dog".
This used to be a funny meme, demonstrating that even dogs could develop an online persona and also a warning that you don't really know who you are talking to. As with all superpowers, there is potential for both good and bad, which is why careful setup and management of communities is so important.
But this 'connection first' default position is incredibly powerful. When we first join a community and start interacting, many factors seem 'less important' than they would in real, face to face life.
For example, as a result of online community, I now have developed very deep friendships with people who I would have very likely not formed connections with due to very different political, religious and world views.
My friends now also include people who I would normally never approach, feeling they were too 'out of reach', people who I never thought I had anything in common with, and people who in another era I may have viewed as competitors.
And I am so much richer for it.
This is the element of community and its power for good which I am most inspired by.
The connection by default position in an online community allows us to experience true connection where the thing we have in common is the focus and more relevant than what separates us.
The well designed and managed online community keeps bringing this important and true superpower out into the open, where it can transform not only your business, but far more. Let's not keep this superpower hidden.
You may think this is all well and good, but what does it have to do with business?
That is what we will be unpacking here ... how the combined power of the online medium, together with community can help your offering to the world meet the people who are looking for it - and engage, retain & delight them.