• Sarah Robinson

The 10 Commandments: Why Churches Understand Building Communities & You Don’t [Part 1]

This is a guest post by Ryan Cox. Ryan is the owner of Cox Consulting – a community management, audience development firm. They run the gambit of online & social media marketing and have a love for data and conversions. He is also on the founding team of Seconds, a mobile payments tool based out of Seattle. His passion for audience development and community can be found deeply integrated into the Fierce-Loyalty mission. Ryan is fascinated with words so he has a blog. He does tweet, too, and quite frequently, so follow him here.

 The 10 Commandments: Why Churches Understand Building Communities & You Don’t [Part 1]

I am a God fearing man. And regardless of your faith, or lack there of, I still will respect you as a person. It’s the right thing to do. Whether or not you attend church regularly, there is something that churches do that you should take notice of. They build communities — passionate and determined communities.

Now one could argue, “Yes, but Ryan that is because you go to church to worship your faith – of course that invokes passion.” I’ll yield to that point, however its what churches do around that passion I want you to take notice of. That’s where the secret sauce is for building a community.

1. Identify the common passion In church, this is the religion the congregation all worship. Plain and simple: you can’t expect to grow and serve your community if you have no clue as to what your communities’ passion(s) are. There is something about your product or service that people can relate to, or desperately need. Identify those passion(s), and build your community around them. Your customers have already displayed what they are passionate about in regards to your product/service – awareness-monetize those passions.

2. Execute the message in response to the passion. In church, this is the sermon heard every Sunday. You have the attention of your audience – now deliver a message. They’ve already shown you that they are committed in some aspect. Begin to communicate your brand message and what you want them to do. Communities want to continue to help what it is they are passionate about.

3. Share the message and create conversations.In church, this is going out and recruiting other practitioners of your faith. With social media, there are amble avenues to share the message and create conversations. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogging, foursquare, etc. Identify where your target market is. Where are the influencers for your brand? Where is the conversation most vibrant and fresh? Setup an account on each medium to capture the conversations. Then focus your attention on whatever social medium you’ve notified as being ‘home base’ for engagement. It’s okay if that is only Facebook and/or Twitter. Don’t overextend your messaging – you’ll lose focus and the community will notice.

4. Empower your community to take an active role.In church, this is sign-ups for events, team leaders, new church membership welcoming, fundraisers, etc. You have a community that enjoys your product or service. You have a community that is sharing their enjoyment, in one way or another, with others. Empower your community to further extend your brand and messaging. This can be done through competitions, rewards, giveaways, leadership titles, etc. People like to share what they are passionate about, but sometimes need some direction. Set the framework for how they can do so.

5. Identify the influencers.In church, these are the members who seem to always be taking charge, communicating with other members, and showcase the strongest dedication to the faith/community. There are leaders, and there are followers. That’s just the way of the world. So by identifying the influencers, you can best serve your community. These are the people that without direct instruction are already building brand awareness for you (a product/service they love). Identify these influencers, and give them direction for the overall brand message. However, do not try and change their delivery methods or messaging. This can turn them away from your brand and lose them as an advocate altogether.  (You aren’t paying them anything remember, they are doing this own their own) Help share your messaging, and they will find the best way to say the same thing, in their own words.

As you can undoubtedly deduct from the first five commandments, the groundwork for building a community is research and activation. As a business you need to understand your consumers and what motivates them in order to serve the community as a whole. By understanding the common thread that is woven through everyone in your community, you will be able to highlight and focus on that singular thread. Lastly, activate your community with ‘mission objectives’ and include them in the process of building. People like to feel needed. It’s their community after all.

[Two Part Blog Series: Part 1]