A Community Is a Mindset, Not a Group of People
We live in the sharing economy. Gatekeepers, gurus, and personality cults belong to a world that no longer exists.
Today and tomorrow, community-driven brands win.
But what does a community-driven brand mean, anyway? And what does it mean to a small-small business owner like you?
Here’s the good news:
To build a community-driven brand…
You don’t need to host a large Facebook group.
You don’t need to host any Facebook group, for that matter.
You don’t need to make the community part of your business model (i.e., create a paid membership, mastermind, and similar).
You don’t need to be a born leader, whatever that means.
You don’t need a massive budget to make it work.
Building, nurturing, and monetizing a community has never been easier than today.
Having said that, here’s the bad news: It’s not as easy as some people make it sound.
You can’t simply herd your fans and followers into a group and call it a community. Even if you have community guidelines, a group of “like-minded people,” and a looong queue of content to share with them.
The hardest thing about building a community
Before you even start thinking about where to host your community, how to name it, how to monetize it, how to enroll people, or how to write community guidelines, you need to make sure that you’re willing to pay the price. Namely:
(1) Time. A lot of time.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
There’s no such thing as “hacking” a community; that would be like wanting to hack a human being. A community is a living and breathing entity. You can’t force it to grow and do things it isn’t ready to do yet.
You need a lot of patience because things take time. Months. Years.
A community has a life of its own, so the best way to bring it up to be an adult who will take care of itself and its creator (you) is to give it time — and freedom. Which brings me to the next point.
The willingness to give your “baby” freedom is a huge indicator of your likeliness to succeed as a community-driven brand owner. And it’s also the scariest and hardest part.
Often, when entrepreneurs talk about freedom, they talk about their freedom. Of course, that’s why we have opted out of our *real* jobs.
But are we willing to give up part of the control over our business — provide our community freedom?
Are we willing to let it grow up and take care of itself without babysitting it?
Are we willing to actually let the community drive?
When building a personal brand, you’ve been:
- Following your passion
- Positioning yourself as an expert and sharing your superpowers
- Growing your following
- Turning people into your raving fans
- Building your tribe
- Making your vision a reality
Your passion. Your expertise. Your tribe. Your vision.
Now, when you want to build a community-driven brand, you need to:
- Let people share their passions
- Let them help each other without you having to be the smartest person in the room
- Let them follow each other, not you
- Become your community members’ raving fan
- Let it be their tribe
- Let them take ownership of the common purpose and vision
Don’t get me wrong. Your personality, your story, and your unique humanness are still important. Without you, there would be no tribe. The people who belong to the tribe are out there, waiting for you to lead them.
But leading also includes a lot of getting out of the way. And that’s so not easy.
A community is a mindset, not a group of people. Not everyone is willing to pay the price. Are you?
If the answer is yes, I’d love to help you with your community brand strategy and design.
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