Five ways brands click with communities of people online

If two people meet spontaneously in the street and later get married, an entrepreneur presents in front of a panel of venture capitals and gets funded or an unhappy employee bumps into a former colleague and they start a business together, then this is because they click.It’s powerful and life changing.

It’s Sunday afternoon, very hot outside and instead of listening to my Ibiza landing collection on Spotify, I decide to walk up the mountain at the back of Barcelona, and start listening to Andrew Warners mixergy interviews I downloaded earlier. I select Ori Brafman’s interview How To Click With People as the first cab of the rank. As I listen to the interview, I think about how the guiding principals of people clicking with one another also apply to how brands click with communities of people online.

So is it really possible for brands to click with communities of people?

Before I attempt to answer this question, we need to shift our mindset from perceiving brands as we have perceived them prior to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.In the context of social media, brands are people. If a brand reaches out to a community, they do so as a person – not a logo, an advertisement or a robot.

There five specific factors that create the dynamic for people to click:

  1. Vulnerability
  2. Proximity
  3. Resonance
  4. Similarity
  5. Safe place

Vulnerability is opening up about topics that capture people’s attention and ultimately empathy.To the point when you demonstrate vulnerability people reciprocate and open up. It’s not always about appearing strong and in control. For example, with BP’s recent oil spill this has made them totally vulnerable. As part of their community outreach, acknowledging the severity of the disaster and how much they are hurting creates a bridge for the community to reciprocate and share stories about how much they are hurting too.

Proximity is about being close to your community. There was a study at an MIT dorm, and it was a series of dorms that were all on a line just like a motel. What they found out was that the people who had formed the most connections were the people who actually lived in the central dorms as opposed to those who lived at the edge of the dorm where you are a little bit out of traffic. How can this be applied to a brand? If a brand is consistently present and collaborating with important communities, people will start liking you more and just by multiple exposures they are also going to like you better.

Resonance is about being present and flow.Brands who show up, ask questions, express genuine interest have a higher resonance factor than those who don’t. How can a brand experience flow? Flow is about being in the moment and being so engaged that they find themselves being truly alive, truly part of the community and connected to their surroundings.

Similarity is about finding points of similar interest and discovering you share these. What matters most is the quantity of similar things. It takes about seven or eight similarities for people to start viewing each other as better human beings, as smarter, as more moral, more like us.This has been hard wired in us for 1,000’s of years and it isn’t going to change any time soon.

Safe place is the final click accelerator and it means to have a clearly defined community. Context is a critical factor for how people feel about each other and that taps into the notion of ‘we are in it together’.So an example would be a community of people engaging around the world cup.If they’re Spaniards who recently won the world cup, a brand would enter the community sharing stories about how they where there too perhaps sharing photos or videos from the celebrations that took place afterwards.

The purpose of a brand within any social channel is to build relationships. These five factors are key to the speed at which a brand can build these relationship and how the relationships will develop.

Ori Brafman is the bestselling author of Sway, Starfish and the Spider and now Click: The Magic of Instant Connections.

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