Community: The New Business Currency?
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
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Community: The New Business Currency?
Not a single person on the internet in 2022 can deny that we're living in the age of content overload. Businesses are pumping out email funnels and blog posts faster than anyone can consume them, and the vast majority of it is falling on deaf ears.
But there's something we're missing here. What happened to building a community, rather than simply blasting your content out into the void? Where did the element of human connectedness go?
Sometimes, content creation just doesn't cut it. Sometimes, we need to bring our business tactics back to the basics; connecting with our clients and consumers on a real, human level.
In today's newsletter recap, we'll be discussing all things community – why your business needs one, how to build one, and why churning out content will never get you the connectedness you need to thrive. Let's dive in.
Following Vs. Community – What's The Difference?
There's a trend running through many of the businesses you see and interact with today. I'll describe it to you, and I think you'll find it familiar.
I'm talking about the business that sends out at least a few emails a week, often with conversational language and 'relatable' content. Their social media is sleek and on-brand, with posts that are either educational or aspirational. They might even have a blog. You might even like it.
But despite all of this, they feel...somewhat one-dimensional. You have no concept of the person running things behind the screen. Even though their blog posts all start with "Hey there!" and their social media bios tout how much they love connecting with others, you don't feel an iota of authenticity coming through.
Why? Because they're not actually connecting with you. They're following a content strategy that's been shown to work, and they're hoping it will result in customers coming to them instead of the other way around.
What you're looking for – the part that feels missing – is something most businesses are unwilling or unequipped to provide: a community.
Business Can Be A Two-Way Street
In 2021, Sprout Social posted their #BrandsGetReal study. It gave incredible insight into how social media users want to connect with businesses; in fact, the study found that 64 percent of consumers want brands to connect with them.
What's more, almost half of surveyed consumers want brands to a) bring people together, and b) unite people from different backgrounds. If that doesn't scream community, I don't know what does. Sprout Social even titled one of their subsections 'Connection Is The New Currency'.
In other words, we're no longer content with one-way interactions with businesses. We want to feel like we're a part of something, that we belong. We want to be able to talk to the people behind the business and have those conversations feel authentic.
That's what community provides: a two-way street where businesses can connect with their consumers and vice versa. And it's a totally doable shift in this day and age; we have greater access to social platforms than ever before.
What Do Business Communities Look Like?
When I say community, I don't just mean a group of Instagram followers who watch your business stories and leave nice comments. I'm talking about a real-life community where people can gather, share experiences, and support one another.
There are all sorts of businesses out there that have built thriving communities around their work:
- Harley-Davidson launched the Harley Owners Club, through which the company organizes social gatherings, special events, and more for its community of motorcycle enthusiasts.
- In the fitness world, CrossFit has built an incredibly tight-knit community of people who share a love for working out hard and supporting one another.
- LEGO actively welcomes design concepts for new products from its community, and works closely with the designers to bring their ideas to life.
- Rust-Oleum has an incredibly engaged community of DIYers who share tips, tricks, and product reviews on the Creator's Studio website. The company runs special challenges and activities through the community site and engages directly with its users.
What all of these businesses have in common is a genuine desire to connect with their consumers. They've realized that it's not about blasting out content and hoping people will stick around – it's about creating an environment where the community can thrive.
The businesses that truly stand out here are the ones who understand that their consumer base is humans with feelings and interests beyond the products they sell. They go above and beyond to create a community that feels welcoming, supportive, and engaging.
Daniel Kwak, Founder at Motti Partners Capital
Today's newsletter is brought to you by an enriching conversation I shared with Daniel Kwak, real estate investing extraordinaire.
Daniel Kwak first immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 5. By the age of 20, he had a negative amount of $187.65 in his bank account – and this, combined with an entire life of financial hardship up until that point, prompted Daniel to learn about Real Estate Investing.
By age 23 he had 83 rental units, along with millions of dollars in capital. At age 26, Daniel founded Miotti Partners Capital, a core-satellite fund that has introduced the equities fund management model into the Real Estate space for the first time. He has also traveled across the country training and mentoring hundreds and thousands of aspiring real estate investors.
Daniel and his brother currently run an online financial education company, along with a YouTube channel (The Kwak Brothers) that currently has over 200k subscribers.
Needless to say, Daniel is the epitome of a success story. He's one of those truly talented individuals who has managed to take a life of hardship and turn it into success.
One of the reasons for his immense success – among many, many others – is his commitment to building and investing in his community of followers.
Why Community Is Important, According to Daniel
Just after the one-hour mark in our Success Story podcast conversation, I asked Daniel about his personal brand strategy and how he weighs up the importance of building a community.
"Someone once told me that people never transform based on what you do, but on who you are. And nobody can truly know who you are unless you spend time and sit down with them."
This brings us back to the idea that, above all else, your consumer base are just people. They are human. And, as humans naturally do, they crave authenticity. They want to see that you're real, that you have a human side, and that they can connect with you on some level.
Obviously, we can't sit down with every single client or potential consumer and have a conversation. It's just not feasible to share a deep and meaningful connection with that many people.
But it's about building a community where you can. Whether that's through a Facebook group you actively moderate, or a Twitter chat you host on a monthly basis, community is key.
Daniel's Strategies for a Thriving Community
As it turns out, interacting with your clientele in person isn't totally out of the question – and Daniel makes it happen. Here are a few of the strategies he's actively implementing as part of his online financial education company, The Kwak Brothers.
Daniel explained to me that, because of the nature of conferences – i.e. a few speakers doing all of the talking – it can be difficult to truly get to know people. So, he hosts retreats instead.
"I hesitate doing a conference, but I will do retreats. I have this retreat coming up in November where I'm hosting 35 to 40 entrepreneurs. We just get to dive deep and talk about our businesses individually, and do life together."
While there will be some speakers present, Daniel emphasized that the getting together aspect was more important.
"I'm bringing in some pretty cool speakers, don't get me wrong. But [doing life together] is what it's gonna be all about."
2. Free Meetups
Because the Kwak Brothers are all about educating and equipping people with the tools they need to be successful, meetups are a great way for Daniel and his brother to motivate their community members as they continue their journey to success.
"I do a free meetup; I do it twice a month, and if people want to join, they can just go to TheKwakBrothers.com."
Meetups are such a simple and effective way to show your audience that you are real, you've got their best interests at heart, and you're willing to take time out of your busy schedule to connect on an authentic level.
3. Giveaway Resources
What I picked up from our interview is that Daniel is a totally generous guy. He wants to help others, and he's not shy about giving as many free resources away as he can.
"We just released a free course – we call it Basecamp – and it's 50 hours' worth of material on real estate investing entrepreneurship. We have a productivity course on there. I'm filming a mini raising capital course to put on there, and we just give it for free. I try to give as much as I can away, content-wise."
While this doesn't directly build community, it does help to show your audience that you care and want them to succeed.
4. The Kwak Brothers YouTube Channel
The Kwak Brothers have a YouTube channel with almost 300k subscribers. And, while the brothers don't actively produce videos every day, they do make sure to pop in a few times a week.
YouTubers are another example of excellent community builders. You'll find that the most popular channels have a tight-knit community of subscribers who feel like they know the YouTuber on a personal level. They take requests, they ask for input, and they genuinely seem to care about their viewers.
On top of all of the other community-building he does, Daniel's YouTube presence is really the cherry on top. It helps to keep people connected with him and his company, and it's a great way to show off the personality behind the brand.
What Else Can You Do?
I was super appreciative of the conversation I had with Daniel, and it was awesome to hear the many ways that he's fostering a strong community within the business. If in-person retreats and meetups isn't an option for your business, however, what are some other things you can do to foster a sense of community among your customers and followers? Let's take a look.
Livestream, Livestream, Livestream!
I mentioned it previously, and I'll say it once more – you need to show your consumer base that you are a real, living, and breathing human being. Livestreaming is one of the most powerful ways to do this. You can answer questions, give sneak peeks at new products or upcoming features, and even just have a casual conversation with your viewers.
Especially for small businesses, this is a really efficient way to build trust and rapport with your customers. And it's not just one-way either. Ask your viewers to submit questions or ideas, and reward the best ones with a shout-out or even a prize.
A Podcast, Perhaps?
This is one I can personally attest to. Podcasts rock! I've been able to meet so many incredible people, learn new things, and even score a few business opportunities as a result of my podcast. Not to mention, it's been great for my brand awareness.
If you already have a podcast, make sure you're using it to its fullest potential. Are you doing interviews? Are you soliciting questions from your listeners? Are you repurposing your content into other formats (like blog posts or social media)?
My mind always drifts back to Lego when talking about community engagement. It's incredibly cool that the brand asks its biggest fans to submit designs for new sets. Not only does this create a sense of ownership and belonging for fans, but it also results in some insanely creative designs.
What kind of contests or challenges can you come up with? Can you feature customer stories on your website or social media? Is there a product you can get customer buy-in on before releasing it?
Start a Side Group
Like the Rust-Oleum example I mentioned earlier, some businesses lend themselves perfectly to the formation of an inside club or group. This could be a Facebook group – but a branded website is even better.
Think about it – this is a captive audience that's interested in what you do. You can foster a sense of community by sharing exclusive content, discounts, or sneak peeks at new products. You could even go so far as to hold live events (like webinars) or offer group coaching sessions.
It also gives your community a chance to self-regulate and interact with one another. They can help answer questions, bond over your products or services, and get lively conversations going.
Whatever you choose, the basic element of connectedness and two-way communication is key. Be personable. Be willing to spend the time it takes to build a community around your business. Give generously, like Daniel Kwak – and watch your business thrive.
If you resonated with the very beginning of today's newsletter, know that you aren't alone – and you aren't a bad businessperson, either. It takes a lot of time and effort to create a community around your business; we don't always have the bandwidth to spare for bells and whistles.
What I'd encourage you to do is make one small change toward community engagement this week. Create a Facebook group for your customers. Do a 20-minute livestream and introduce yourself. Post a poll on Instagram Stories to get customer buy-in on a new product.
Eventually, though, the goal should be to create a thriving community – not just an email list that receives mediocre engagement metrics at best. Build a community, and success will follow.
If you were intrigued by Daniel's story, I highly recommend giving his interview a listen. We spoke about his origin story, how he got into real estate investing, the role that religion plays in his business life, and of course, how he's been able to create a thriving community around his business. You can find it here.
Have a great week!
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