Traditional community building strategy often centers around making industry connections, and ultimately, expanding your network in order to grow your company or find a better job. But what if community building centered around shared interest, fun projects, and philanthropy instead of stuffy cocktail hours and endless Zoom meetings? Shared interest groups make this possible, offering a place for collaboration that’s free of the pressure of traditional business models.
That’s exactly what Motor Culture Australia is offering to their community of auto-lovers. What began as a digital platform for users’ shared interest in cars quickly became a way to meet new people, share ideas, and give back to the community. The company started online, but quickly expanded to include car-centric events where members come to experience and learn more about automobiles. Founder Tom McPherson started the company because he wanted to create a safe, positive environment where members could share their interest without the negative aspects he experienced at other automobile shows.
McPherson has targeted his niche audience and transformed the typical concept of community building to make it fun for members, educational, and beneficial to the community as a whole. Here are his top three most important elements for creating a positive, inclusive and socially responsible community building community.
Stay Ahead of Trends and Capitalize On Commonalities
Tom himself is interested in cars and this gave him a distinct advantage when creating a business model that would appeal to consumers. The company offers members access to exclusive events, automobiles and related experiences where they can meet others with their shared interests. The automobile industry is saturated, he said, and that requires that his company stays competitive.
The quality most necessary for creating a thriving community building community is shared interest, yes, but it’s also the ability to stay ahead of the game. In this way, community building companies must work to be the first to market with their events, experiences and offerings. Even though they are not necessarily selling a specific, tangible product, they must anticipate the needs of the consumer and adapt accordingly. This means researching trends in the industry, experimenting with new styles of events or giveaways, and forging connections with industry leaders that can bring a competitive edge to the market. Never get so stuck in one way of doing business. Leaders must innovate every day to stay relevant.
Make It Global – Expand Your Network With Virtual Events
On its own, virtual community building can feel impersonal. However, building a strong presence online can help in-person community building communities stay in touch with their members no matter where they are. While the primary advantage of the community is forging real, tangible human relationships, the online aspect expands the reach of the community. Barring time zones, you can “meet up” with people all over the globe.
In order to reach new community members, this has to look like more than simply creating a solid website and posting on platforms consistently. This means innovating ways for your members to connect online, by creating shareable content, or by sharing their content. Events can include a virtual aspect, in that they are meant to be shared online before, during and after. This drives that ever-present FOMO (fear of missing out), and will help your network attract new people who can already see—through your digital presence—that they are missing something amazing.
Make Social Responsibility the Centerpiece Of Your Strategy
A sustainable community building community has these two elements: it’s fun, and it’s socially responsible. This means that the shared interest is driven by more than simply having a good time. Members come back again and again because they know that they can help provide benefits to the community through their participation.
McPherson said that this can only be built on trust. Cultivating a strong community building community, one that has the ability to give back, means that each event, giveaway and experience is formulated with integrity. This means that the community is held to a standard of behavior in their interactions, all of which is facilitated by the organizational leaders. In order to give back to the extended community, the network needs to be made up of people who interact in a responsible manner.
Community building is more than just work-centered events. A community built on shared interest is a valuable asset because it helps people forge connections that can benefit their personal and professional lives.