Communities of Fun


Bret Simmons , the mastermind behind the Sm@art 2010 Social Media Conference Reno-Tahoe event happening this December and I were talking recently around the idea of Communities of Practice.  During our discussion, we launched into different Communities of Interest, Communities of Purpose and also the notion around Communities of Fun.  We were discussing this hot new company that has a personal awareness engine with a credible event notification platform  that has free applications at the tap of a button to share with you from wine tasting ,to theatre to sports events.   This company is setting itself up for joining the triple digit growth mobile application business with this concept of Communities of Fun.

One of the things that I’ve seen over the years in my field of work is that in fact people come for content, but they do stay for the ‘community’.  So it does become important how you co-create the charter for the community with your members and cultivate them over time so that they stay engaged and active.  In the case of the personal awareness engine company, it will become very important that they,  www. ,  spend time to look at allowing their users to personalize the communities, content and/or channels they want to subscribe to in a meaningful and easy to use manner.  If they allow their members to stay and watch, capture interest, they will find members will get braver and braver and soon will feel safe enough to upload their own knowledge and information and start to share their own information.  After all, that is what the give and take communities are about.  I’m really looking forward to see how these Communities of Fun are ‘cultivated’ – I feel quite fortunate that they are in my physical ‘backyard’ so to speak!

What does it take to be a master community weaver?

The composition of the community as it turns out is really important – you need more than just a modern infrastructure of tools and a great product or service – you need the right people, committed to the overall goal of the community who are willing to look at the conversation, the content, the focus and partner and lead to allow it to flourish, grow, etc.  What I mean is that you need special people with the secret sauce.  Yes, that is correct – it’s not every ordinary day person that can be a community convener.  You need professionally trained community builders who understand the fine balance between driving business results and honoring individual motivation and needs.  This is the tight rope that is often very hard to balance.

This idea of developing, nurturing and cultivating communities work described by Etienne Wenger, Bill Snyder and Richard McDermott  in the “Cultivating Communities” book is an excellent framework to consider.    But what I’ve found when composing communities is that there is a great need for talent in what I call the “loom factory’, as you need to quickly hire master weavers to the team.  Sounds easy right, well these people aren’t so easy to find.  You need people who ‘give, give and give more’ according to Mike Dulworth, author of the Connect Effect ’.  These people are great listeners who with ease and grace can welcome new community members, while educating, informing, sharing, encouraging and can invite new community members.  For existing members they need to be able to facilitate online systems and tools, while challenge being able to facilitate in person workshops and challenge community members all at the same time. 

The talent we look for as community composers are these individuals that are natural weavers of knowledge.  They share outwards and bridge, they are social artists that can listen for and see new possibilities while understanding each community members’ personal needs and motivations. They live in a variety of digital habitats and have strong verbal and written communication competencies, as well as leadership, drive and passion.  They are workhorses who strive to allow community members to accomplish goals or solve customer problems.  They are generative in nature and have emotional intelligence.  Master weavers bring people into to a new, warm inviting place – into a community of high value.