Digital community equals meaningful relationships

Last month I was both privileged and honoured to be invited to present alongside one of our clients (Toby Retallick from Youth Music) at the Charity Comms Digital Impact Conference. As per the Charity Comms web site: this event explored emerging trends, challenges and examples of innovation and best practice in digital communications.
 

Toby works on the Youth Music Network which reaches out to over 100,000 children via more than 300 music education projects across the UK. BrightLemon recently won a competitive tender to help grow and develop the network over the coming years.

Toby and I shared the stage to present to an audience of communications and digital specialists from the third sector. Many already have existing online communities.

I presented on the theory of digital community while Toby talked about the practical side citing examples from the Youth Music Network.

 
Niche community equals meaningful relationships
Niche community equals meaningful relationships.

 

Meaningful Relationships

It is no secret that outreach, recruitment and engagement in digital is acheived by creating a (sense of) community. The important trend to recognise is that increasingly this will be via niche community.
 
Users who have the same interests, needs and wants engage with each other in far more meaningful and lasting ways.
 
Niche community is what gives rise to meaningful relationships.
 
Our niche social brain has not evolved.
Our niche social brain has not evolved.
 
 
One of the reasons for this is that physiologically our brain in 2013 A.D is identical to what it was in 2013 B.C. It takes more than four thousand years for an organ like the human brain to evolve.
 
(Robin Dunbar  a renowned anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist  has postulated that 150 is the cognitive limit to the number of meaningful relationships one person can maintain).
 
And so our thoughts, feelings and behaviours  our reactions, motivations and interactions  are fundamentally the same as those of our ancestors.
 
As Maslow theorised, we look for food and safety first; then friends and family and later higher needs such as esteem and self actualisation via creativity, philosophy or politics. This is the same today as it was way back then. Our brain has not evolved.
 
 

Transient relationships: 15 minutes (140 characters) of fame

One of the things I personally dislike about social media  indeed media in general   is the trend towards transient relationships. Warhol’s 15 minutes has become 140 characters. Sound bites pervade all forms of mass communication.
 
But charities have a major advantage over corporates.
 
Charities already have the meaningful relationship. They already have the niche community. It does not have to be fabricated.
 
Successful community is useful, niche and content driven.
Successful community is useful, niche and content driven.
 
 
Successful communities are niche.
Successful communities are useful.
Successful communities are content driven.
 
Charities have all of these three in abundance.