I’ve recently been reading a book by Sarah Robinson called Fierce Loyalty.
In short, it’s a mini tome on how to make people feel connected to your brand, be it Harley Davidson or a group of surfing enthusiasts, through community in a digital space.
Though we work in a public institution, and don’t live and die by the number of widgets or gadgets that are sold, Virginia Tech also relies heavily on brand loyalty just as any institution that sells material goods for survival. And many alumni cultivate a connection to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the university that lasts throughout their entire lives.
Robinson has done a lot of work not only creating communities in a virtual space but also creating the intangible SENSE of community that tends to foster very strong connections to loyalty like those found among Hokie alumni and current students.
One of the themes that re-appears throughout her book and her blog is that there is no substitution for being human, even in a virtual space, to attract members into your community.
She cautions against merely making transactions in a digital space, but really attempting to make connections. And making connections can only be done by investing the one thing that we’ve come to associate exclusively with face-to-face interactions: Time.
Easier said than done?
Here are some tips:
- Make members feel valued and important.
- Create something together.
- Fight a common enemy.
- Create a culture of “we.”
- Empower members to make the community their own.
- Build in exclusivity.
- Create a barrier to entry.
- Stand for something bold.
- Build structure with an eye toward fostering pride, trust, and passion.
- Initiate opportunities for shared experiences.
- Love your community.