It Starts With the Fans - Community
To many, the idea of communities may be a lost art. There was once a time when we may have known our neighbours, or been involved in our local area, or attended a specialist group. As the years progress it seems that our traditional idea of community has died a death.
I haven't seen my current neighbours and I couldn't tell you the names of the previous ones. I don't know anyone who attends any kind of group. In face, like most things, even communities have moved online. And, in some ways, maybe this is for the better. I certainly wouldn't be able to write the books that I do without an army of international groups to tap into. And, thanks to a niche group of photographers, I get to travel virtually to my spiritual home of New Mexico until I can afford the flights out there.
We do spend an inordinate amount of time locked onto our smart devices. But, for many, these devices are a way to connect with people who they ordinarily wouldn't meet. Friendships are born through these digital communities and, from them, in person meetings happen.
Businesses have also learned the value of building an online community. Some offer websites for people to gather, encouraging their users, staff, and fans to communicate in real time. Others use social for the same purpose, posting threads that encourage interaction. With this comes brand loyalty and a feeling of inclusion that may otherwise be lost. In return, they're helping to preserve a way of life that is quickly being lost in favour of people being isolated from one another.
It's those who aren't embracing ways of turning the traditional into the current that are losing out. Their fan-bases are often decentralised and rely on word of mouth to share information. Often the users will feel no loyalty toward that brand and will go elsewhere if a product is deemed to be of better quality or value. Users are becoming more savvy and, because of that, companies that aren't investing in their fans are watching profits drop and finding themselves struggling. For many of them, it will only be a matter of time before they're consigned to the digital scrapheap in favour of a company that is more willing to work with its customers.
The art of community is not lost, nor is it dying. Like many things in this world the idea of a community is undergoing an evolution that you, too, can also tap in to.