Community: How to Spark That Flame and Build a Brand Community
Laura Gilinsky | Community Manager
Jun 06, 2019

Last month, I made the long-haul over to NYC from sunny Los Angeles for Social Media Week’s flagship New York City conference. Imagine, 3,000 people who sleep, eat, and breathe Twitter Updates and Instagram Live–it was an epic and connective experience, to say the least. Where else would you get to hear from the team behind RuPaul’s Drag Race AND Andy from Fyre Festival in one place? Amidst the pop-culture overload, I sought to take note of every mention of ‘community’ (a.k.a. YOU GUYS).

As the Community Manager here at Cogni, my job is to make sure that our community is informed, engaged and heard across all digital platforms as well as IRL. With those duties in mind, I set out to learn everything I could about fostering and retaining the best possible community for our Cogni users.

I knew that I was in for an awesome panel when the host walked out wrapped in a feather boa scarf. Enter, the fabulous Viacom team behind RuPaul’s Drag Race. It came as no surprise that this in-tune team’s first piece of advice to brands was this: young people are hungry for someone that they can count on to be authentic, so, be authentic!

New age consumers are tired of “fake news” and can smell faulty motives from a mile away. These consumers are demanding that brands have a cultural and social awareness like never before. But this awareness needs to come from a genuine place; it is crucial that a company’s team (or experts/advisors) can relate to the audience they are trying to reach. Without those shared values as a foundation for your brand and mission, your community will crumble.

So, how does a brand achieve this magical authenticity? By giving glimpses into the everyday lives, sharing unique voices who can speak directly to your audience, and by being true to where you come from. Surmised in one beautifully middle school diaryesqe quote by Samsung’s H.L. Ray, “Be who you are, and the people who care will always be there”.

A day–and 100 Instagram Stories–later, I stepped into another dance party. The speaker, Radha Agrawal, Co-founder and CEO of Daybreaker (an international morning dance party), had us on our feet jumping and laughing even before our morning coffee had hit. In those first few minutes and for the rest of her talk, I felt like I was a part of a community in that room. Radha started her talk by making one very crucial move towards fostering a community; she established that this was a safe space where attendees could be silly and dance awkwardly without judgment.

Safety is a key aspect of building a community, however, it needs to be intertwined with one other ingredient in order for that community to be sustained: mystery. Radha explained, “We have to create mystery in life, just like in any relationship, so that is doesn’t go stagnant over time”. Furthermore, these elements need to be echoed both on and off-screen. Brands must be sure to offer the same safe and intriguing environment across all digital platforms, as well as in experiential interactions.

With the words of a few genius marketers resounding in my head, I am pushed to safeguard the above values so that Cogni can create the most inviting and captivating community for our users.

Header image by © 2019 Social Media Week
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