I always forget how much I appreciate being involved communities until one of those days happen where you get a massive hit of oxytocin and realise how important they are in putting a smile on our face.
When I say community, I use the term very loosely. It is one of those words that‘s applied across so many different things now, in this case I am referring to a group of people who were brought together to share in the adventure of going on an road trip to a music festival together.
Its not often you meet a group of people who, other than knowing one or two others, didn’t know the majority of people there, but still very quickly and naturally become a happy, thriving mini community. Other than having an awesome time, the experience got me thinking about why it worked so well? Was there anything about the approach that was taken that I could learn from? About the traits you need to build, lead and inspire a strong community of people, where the members get the happiness hit of belonging and the team spirit is strong.
The rough model below is what I came up with.
How that would apply to my festival experience ;
- People – A group of 35 people all brought together through friends of friends.
- Passion – A love of music festivals.
- Person – The leader of the group, the one who brings it all together. In this case it was a guy celebrating his 30th birthday, who with a few close friends has co-ordinated the crew, sorted the logistics, answered questions, organized a meet up session where the group could get to know each other beforehand and made sure we had walkie talkies for our convey of 6 campervans so we could keep the conversation going through the entire (long) drive north to Splendour from Sydney. (Just one of the little touches that helped the community feel ‘together’)
- Place – As well as the initial face to face meet up, a private Facebook group was created where in the lead up our lead would post regular updates to re-invigorate excitement and others were encouraged to post links and info. Building momentum and excitement all the while. It also easily allowed the unfamiliar crew to connect and get to know each other a little better before we departed. Then of course we had our base camp at the festival, complete with decorated Marque.
- Points of discussion – The trip and the festival ensured there was always conversation to be had. Conversation everyone could be involved in and have a point of view about. Pre the trip the posts on the Facebook group kept the group talking, connecting about the line up, the weather, the party, the food, the outfits, etc. During the festival there was no shortage of face to face banter and discussion about the acts and general goings-on. Post the event, facebook has again became the place to share photos, videos, memories, in-jokes to keep the conversation and community going, long after the final chillout.
Taking the model out of the context of a crazy crew of pumped people all heading north to party, I thought I would try applying it to another example of another one of my favourite communities.
Secret Foodies. If you love great food and great company definitely look it up. They host weekly dining experiences across Sydney that bring foodies together.
“Hosted by Ms Darlinghurst, Secret Foodies’ events are designed to suit people who love great food, meeting new people and have a sense of adventure.” Secret Foodies website.
- People – Foodies. People who express that food is a part of their identity and are proud to freely labeling themselves with that tag that others easily understand and can identify with.
- Passion – Food, food, more food and some wine and ultimately having a passion for new, different and good food experiences.
- Place – Talk and discussion is a crucial part of building a community and creating that connection that gives us our happiness hit as people. Here is takes the form of a dinner table. One of the most historic community forums of all time.
- Person – Ms Darlinghurst aka Alex is the ultimate hostess and runs Secret Foodies. Always smiling, she has an uncanny knack of always making you feel welcome, included and interesting. She also effortlessly starts conversations that bring people together, keeps the party energized and always has or finds an answer to any foodie query.
- Points of discussion – Conversation needs fed. In this example, this it was literally the food of the 4 course meal we worked our way through, plus the accompanying wines that maintained a lively discussion. Alex also does a great job at keeping the conversation going after the event through her blog post reviews that everyone is encouraged to get involved in.
Overall, both of these examples in reflection seem like common sense, however I think it did no harm to think about them in the context of a model, to help think about what it is about these communities that makes them work and applying those principles before diving into a social or community based marketing initiative. It is also valuable to think about the technology available that is available to help connect and bring people together, because done well, its this kind of stuff that can help an experience mean so much more.
(Splendour photos courtesy of Alex Luther)