Pro-teacher tip: People engage in communities when they feel a sense of belonging, significance, and fun.

Ryan Arndt’s post 7 Ways to Put LOVE Back Into Your Community Management has great advice for community managers AND teachers (it turns out Ryan used to be a teacher! Go figure.). This post made me wonder which elements of my teaching philosophy and practice I apply to new community management roles.

I’m lucky enough to teach at a school that has a social-emotional approach to education. All classrooms use a community-building model called Responsive Classroom. The end goal of Responsive Classroom is to create  engaging communities of intrinsically motivated learners who care for the social, intellectual, and emotional health of their classmates. I can (and will) write many posts about how my classroom management plan is similar to my community management plans. The focus of this blog post is the core belief of Responsive Classroom. In order for learning to happen, people must be engaged. For people to engage in a community setting, they must feel a sense of belonging, significance, and fun. Belonging is the feeling that we are important to our community. Significance is the feeling that what we say matters to our community. Fun is when we experience joy with our community.

In my experience, most brands go for the joy factor first. Schwag, booze, and food are thrown at potential community members in the hope that they will engage. The Responsive Classroom framework helps us understand that this approach is superficial. Slightly better brands combine social opportunities with joy: exclusive and intimate networking events (with booze, schwag, and food). This is better but not sufficient. Brands tend to forget that people will not engage in a community if what they say or do isn’t significant. In the past few years, we’ve seen brands start to tackle significance with their customer service outreach (JetBlue, for example). In the past year, I’ve noticed brands take this a step further and create opportunities for community feedback to change brand operations. Mashable’s article 5 Fitness Brands Kicking Butt on Social Media gives a case study of a contest by Under Armor that ended in users being crowned social media experts for five weeks.

What are the innovative ways your brand (or brands you love) make you feel significant? (Please comment!)

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