• Sarah Robinson

The Fierce Loyalty Model

A Model for Understanding & Building Fierce Loyalty

Since the age of the dinosaur (I’m that old), I’ve been building communities. I built them in college, and I’ve built them for universities, nonprofits, political campaigns, blogs, businesses, clients – everywhere I’ve ever been.

I build them because they 1) make my job more fun and 2) make getting my job accomplished so much easier.  Over time, I’ve gotten better and better at not only building them, but at infusing them with fierce loyalty. And that’s the part that really excites me.

After picking apart my successes and researching what other super smart people have to say about community and loyalty (and with the help of the ridiculously talented trio of Janet Goldstein, Elizabeth Marshall and Les McKeown), I’ve put together a model that gives us a framework both for understanding how community happens and for what it takes to build fierce loyalty around whatever it is we are up to in the world.

Drum roll please………

Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities

The Frame: All communities are framed by a common interest. This common interest might be in your product directly (for example people who are interested in organic dog food) or it may be about a bigger subject that is connected to your product (holistic pet care). Without this frame to hold everything together, community and fierce loyalty can’t evolve.

(I made these slides myself. So don’t make fun of them!)

Inside the Frame: Within that frame are a wide variety of individuals who share that common interest. Using the example above, these individuals could be pet owners, veterinarians, animal trainers, pet sitters, etc.

Circle #1: What Some of These Individuals Need A certain number of those individuals realize that they have a set of needs around this common interest. These needs fall into three categories:

1) Belonging

2) Recognition

3) Safety

Circle #2: Organizational Structure Shows Up

These individuals go looking for a way to get these needs met.  At this point one of two things can happen:

Option 1: Members of this subset find each other, get themselves organized and the structure for a community emerges (like the Occupy Movement).

Option 2: An outside organization provides the structure for a community and the individuals find their way there  (like Weight Watchers).

Either way, the organizational structure needed for community to happen includes these elements:

1) Predictability

2) Support

3) Connection

When these organizational elements meet those individuals who looking to fill their needs for belonging, recognition and safety, community happens.

The missing circle can only develop after the other parts are in place and it can only develop when it’s given time to grow and flourish. The three crucial elements of that final circle are:

1) Pride

2) Passion

3) Trust

Pride, Trust and Passion cannot be manufactured or faked or rushed. They can, however, be encouraged, fostered and demonstrated. Given the right environment, they will take root and become the match that will ignite Fierce Loyalty in a community.

Review this model and decide where you are in your community development. Do you see any obvious gaps? Can you made out your next steps to get where you want to go?

I’m looking forward to digging deeper into this model in upcoming posts.  So that I make them as rich and as helpful as they can be, I would love it you would post your thoughts and your questions in the comments section below.

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