5 pillars to create a strong and engaged community
Creating and developing a community around you is an important step to launching and sustaining your entrepreneurial project.
In this article, we suggest some practical advice on how to mobilise a community and some questions to ask yourself in order to encourage collective action around your project, whether it is in the field of social entrepreneurship or not.
What exactly is a community?
First of all, it is important to define what a community is. A community is a group of people who are interested in a common cause and who share a common vision, culture and history. These people carry out joint actions to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.
5 pillars in building a community
Here are some important aspects to consider when building your community and making it last over time.
First and foremost, it is essential to define the scope of your community. Define the profile of your future members and the reasons why they will mobilise. Here are some questions to ask yourself: What is the common quest? What problem(s) do you want to solve together? Is it an issue or issues that resonate sufficiently with your community? A common vision and mission for all members will allow you to establish the “why” of this community. The vision is the overall goal, the representation of the world towards which the community wants to move, and the mission is what it will do to achieve this goal. For example, for Wikipedia, the common goal is to make knowledge accessible to all.
Sense of belonging
A vibrant community always has a strong identity. How will you ensure that everyone feels like they’re part of the journey, even if they have not signed a formal commitment document? This sense of belonging can be fostered by defining common rules: this is the community manifesto which explains the norms and attitudes to be promoted in the community. Makesense (1) is a successful example of a dynamic community of over 25,000 volunteers around the world. Their manifesto has a simple, clear and transparent identity that is a basic element in generating a real sense of belonging and involving its users in the co-construction of their actions.
What kind of connections and interactions do you want to create? Consider setting up rituals, such as meeting once a week. Having regular meetings will help to create links between your members. Next, what tools will you adopt (both online and offline)? These tools should be easy to use so that members can connect, exchange and take action together towards the common goal. For example, customers of La Ruche qui dit Oui! (2) in France can discuss ideas with other members of the community. Which tools seem most relevant in your case (online exchange platform, dedicated discussion groups, participation in common projects, etc.)?
The experience of the members of a community must be constantly enriching in terms of learning. If their experience is not continuously active and they do not feel a sense of progressive empowerment, they may become demotivated. Shared passion and constant learning are two important components for maintaining long-term commitment. Don't forget to set up actions to mobilise and unite your community (e.g. running workshops, organising meetings, participating in joint events, etc.) and to create learning opportunities to allow your members to become more professional and develop their skills (access to resources, educational content, materials, etc.).
Valuing and engaging
In a healthy, sustainable and active community, members should be able to build their own reputation through their contributions. It is therefore important to think about the type of contributions that will be valued within your community (training, volunteering, networking, etc.) and how they will be valued (rating system or stars like on Airbnb, access to new responsibilities, etc.)?
Why create a community?
Having people who follow you and want to help you will provide you with core competencies, so you will be able to grow your project faster. Creating a community will allow you to:
- be as close as possible to the needs of your clients, beneficiaries and/or users in order to understand them and remain as relevant as possible in the development of your solution,
- co-construct your offer alongside your users, who will become members of a collective project and not just ordinary customers of a product or service,
- attract employees and customers more easily and mobilise your partners and stakeholders. A community with good ambassadors will allow you to grow faster by making your members ambassadors of real stakeholders.
Launching a community has never been easier today thanks to the availability of digital tools. However, many initiatives are short-lived. Creating a community around a common project requires a significant investment, at least at the beginning. Do not underestimate the time, resources and energy you will have to devote to it. A community is built over time, so you need to be patient and well prepared.
If you would like further advice on this subject, contact the nyuko team!
For more information...
(1) manifeste (French website) / (2) La Ruche qui dit Oui (French website) / (3) Makesense
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