In times of virtualization and digitalization, communities and tribes are the new places. The less we can meet, the more obvious the importance of our relationships for the resilience of our systems and brands. We want to find out together why and how communities become a hood, brands become hosts and ringleaders, and people become part of a community again that can offer a home away from home and some orientation in the World Wide Web.
VR? We are!
Last week I talked community. In fact I gave a keynote on the topic “community as a service” at a conference that took place in a Virtual Reality. In a Virtual Reality that was built for that special event, providing a stage, a campfire and a dance floor for the party afterwards. A campfire you might ask? A campfire!
I talked about the importance of community building at a place named VR – speak WE ARE – to a room filled with avatars, being an avatar myself. We built community as I talked, and we interacted, took pictures of each others and selfies of course, we moved around, hugged, greeted and send hearts and Emojis to express our gratitude, our excitement and interest.
We might have looked strange from the outside but from inside it felt great. Connected. Safe. Together.
It was a unexpected experience, being an avatar, joining a full theatre of avatars and listening to a great presentation by an avatar. Well done pic.twitter.com/BEAJ82xTST
— BerlinConceptPartner (@BerlinCPartner) November 11, 2020
What is it that makes community such a thing right now?
While in times with no Corona we are used to meet and mingle at various places and events, in times where physical distance is the order of the day, community becomes the place to be – mostly in the digital sphere: Where do I meet likeminded people? Where can I connect with peers? Where is my mission being worked on? Who can support me in times like this?
What is a community anyway?
But before we digged in questions like these we had do come up with a definition of community.
Being better with than without your community might not serve as a definition but it explains it quite well from a members perspective. The members perspective being the one you want to take on as much as possible while building and growing your community. What defines your members? What makes them special? How do they recognize each other outside of your community?
Connection and trust being the core of every community, measuring the quality of your community doesnt come in that natural. be sure to have some ressources and time to invest in your community, but also make sure, why and how you want your community to be set up. Is ist about growth? Is it about support & interaction? Is it about a special mission with a defined goal?
How do we engage our community?
The reason why, la raison d’être become important when it comes to strategy. Know your answers is vital when it comes to engage with your community, when it comes to the core: impact. Where does your community becomes immersive offering a platform to connect, a way to transform and create a sense of community?
This is where community, event and place come together. While a place and an event share the location, people coming to a certain address to join for a moment, a concert, a day or a trip, a community is something you join for a not defined period of time, making it part of your journey. However, with ongoing virtualization these categories are no longer valid. We log into our communities online
Still an event doesn’t make a community just by taking place. A community does not have to offer events. A place is a place without events taking place there. But in times of constant virtualization, new technologies and right now physical distance there might be a chance for the three of them to learn from each other and boost each other.
Think of events like Burning Man, like Wacken oder the SXSW – they to gain their reputation for a group of people that is not only happy to join theses events year after year (Frequence!), celebrating the before and and after event period – they do feel connected with other visitors and fans without knowing them good enough to call them friends.
So how can we transform an event into a community?
What do events, communities and places can learn from each other? Where do they nurture each other, how can we create them together and why is campfire important?
When we travel back in time when there was no bar, no events, no business clubs, it was the campfire people would gather around to connect, be told the stories of their community and such treated the inherent culture, traditions and hack, you needed to know to navigate life, both private and public.
So for this last part we switched location and met around the nearby campfire to connect vulnerable and sharing as we are to build our own immersive community. While the campfire surely made it easy to connect in the woods, for those who stayed 2D we did sent out mini campfires aka tealights plus toothpicks and a marshmallow to roast a bite.
This talk has been given on the IMMERSIVE X conference an AltspaceVR on November 6. 2020. Thank you vm-people for having me. And for everyone now considering a community – dont you hesitate to let me sit down around a campfire and tell you some more.