The Importance of Community and How to Build it

Ken Gray - Digital CX Strategist

24 Jan 2022

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Since 1998 I’ve been helping entrepreneurs and organizations grow their businesses online. After all these years, the 3Cs for online success haven’t changed and neither has my philosophy behind them. As it has been said, “principles never change; like sowing and reaping and compound interest.” But I digress.  

The 3Cs for online success 

  1. Content 
  2. Community 
  3. Commerce  

Provide people with “content” of value that meets their needs and invite them into a “community” that supports, encourages, builds trust, and leads them toward a “commerce” transaction.  

Side note: My 3C definition of commerce is, “any interaction or engagement that leads to a ’conversation’ or ‘conversion’ that is aligned with your business and digital marketing goals.” An exchange of money doesn’t have to be involved. I’ll talk more about commerce and conversions in a future post.  

What is Community? 

I looked up the definition an found these two:  

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. E.g. "the scientific community" 
  2. a feeling of fellowship with others due to sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 

In the digital marketing space, and for the purpose of this post, I’ve summarized community as, “a place where people feel connected and share common attitudes, interests, and goals.” 

Places to Connect (Digitally) 

Today there are many places where like-minded people connect online. The most obvious is social media; and the sheer number of platforms available – which is in the thousands – shows just how important it is for us, as humans, to connect with one another. We are social/relational creatures by nature. 

As we have become less connected physically, we have seen an unprecedented increase in people connecting and engaging electronically. With better internet access has come the explosive growth and usage of video conferencing tools allowing us to, once again, connect “face-to-face.” 

Mobile apps, forums, webinars, websites, and virtual exhibitions are other places people connect and network. 

Social Media Matters 

Facebook, the largest social media website now sitting at roughly 2.89 billion users, was built in 2004 to connect Harvard students with one another. In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd was streamed live via cell phone, the Black Lives Matter organization received an unparalleled and sustained boost in “mentions” – approximately 80 million for 30 days across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.  

According to data collected by the Social Media Analytics Center at the University of Connecticut, the mentions far eclipsed brands like Nike and Starbucks that typically dominate social media. 

How to Build Community 

The secret(s) to building community lie in the definition itself. So let’s dissect it shall we? 

Community is ultimately about connecting with people. When Facebook started, it was about connecting students. You may want to connect with entrepreneurs, CEOs, customers, colleagues, your local bakery or meat shop, suppliers, developers, etc.; the list is virtually endless. So, the first step to building community is knowing who you want to connect with. 

The common or shared attitudes, interests, and goals answer the” why” question and simplify the focus and purpose of connecting. The shared interests can range from movies, sport, entertainment, and online gaming, among many others. You need to remember that birds of the same feather flock together.

Once you know "who" and "why", you can discover and determine the place where you will find and connect with the people. Speaking of birds sticking together, you rarely find penguins in Florida or flamingos in Antarctica.  

Feeling Connected 

Having a network of 30,000 people on Facebook is not the goal; connecting with people is. Business is no different. I always say, “business is built on relationships.” Relationships are built through connection and trust. 

Connection happens through conversations that are bi-directional. Trust happens over time through a consistent demonstration of kindness and selfless acts. [check out my post on, 10 Ways to Deepen Human Connections in a Digital World

Think about any social gathering. There can be a bunch of people, even family, in a room, and yet there could be no connecting happening (uh hem…cell phones away, please).  

Communities are essentially social gatherings and often start well with lots of enthusiasm, but conversations with the same groups of people can become stale and predictable after a while. It’s that feeling you get during an awkward silence. [sounds of crickets here] 

The communities that grow and maintain their enthusiasm are those where at least one person always has something new to contribute. It’s the same with any relationship (and no, I’m not a marriage counselor). In the marketing world, we call this community engagement. Someone has to be the life of the party. 

Which of the following sounds more like a community?  

  1. You’re at a party with tons of people, and everyone is on their cell phone doing their own thing. 
  2. You’re at a party, and people are conversing, laughing, and having fun. 

If you had to pick one of these two scenarios, which would you rather find yourself in? Like or comment below if you had the thought, “I just want to be able to get together again with more than just five people.” [social distancing sigh here] 

In summary, to build a community, you need four main ingredients: 

  1. Birds, aka people (the who)
  2. Purpose, common ground, or air if you’re a bird – attitudes, interests, goals (the why) 
  3. A place to connect – preferably Florida – not because I’m a flamingo, but because I live in Canada, and it was winter when I wrote this  
  4. Connection – someone who can be the life of the party and keep things exciting and new 

Lastly, follow us on all major social media channels and share your insights on "community" and any that you belong to or are building.


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Tags:

Culture
Marketing
Sitecore Community
Community Building

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Ken Gray

Ken is a two-time Sitecore Strategy MVP (2019-2020) who has been working with the Sitecore platform for more than eight years. He has over 20 years of experience in business analysis, software development, content management, marketing, and digital strategy. 

Ken’s passion for data-backed marketing and personalization along with his coaching and training abilities, aids Konabos in helping dozens of Content Authors and Sitecore Marketers improve their productivity and knowledge of Sitecore; thus maximizing each client’s Sitecore investment. 

In short, Ken makes the complex toolset of Sitecore, simple.


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