Creatively encouraging community identity

Creating an identity for your community is important. Many communities will have their own logo, a branding kit (such as font types, colours and other design principles) as well as tag lines and descriptions for who “belongs” in the community.

But there are other more “creative” ways to develop and encourage community identity.

Here’s some inspiration…

MIT images using Stackla

I saw this on Twitter today and I must admit my jaw dropped to the floor.

Here’s a quick screen recording of the social media hub at the time of writing.
I LOVE THIS. What a great way to showcase and experience community in real-time!
It’s a visual way of showcasing the community culture and general vibe of what’s going on in real-time.

I dug deeper and will be completely nerding over this in finer detail…

They used Stackla to create this hub.
I truly feel that many communities could benefit from having something like this for their members.

The aspect I’m most excited about is aggregating across all the different platforms, in a very user-friendly format.
There are many great case studies on Stackla’s website with impressive conversion stats.

I’ve requested a demo with them, watch this space!

Zoom backgrounds

I can’t believe more brands don’t either:

a) offer their own zoom background(s) for their community members to use, or
b) Make it a fun exercise that people turn up to the virtual event with a background that reflects their personality.

I know Disney and some other major brands have offered zoom backgrounds, and I loved seeing these.

But I definitely see a lot more opportunity to use zoom backgrounds to spark more connection between community members.

The key is to think creatively and don’t go down the lame path of just adding a logo to a blank screen and calling it a day. Think about what truly brings your community together.

You can use canva.com as they have free zoom virtual background templates to get started! (Not an ad, I just really like Canva and use it almost every day).

Canva is a great tool to use especially for option b mentioned above when asking community members to come to the session with their own virtual background.

 

Ask community members to use a photo that has a story behind it as their virtual background.

Here are 4 photos I mocked up as virtual backgrounds (they all represent a story in my life).
See how this zoom call already looks more interesting?
I know there’s four of me here in this zoom call… I guess I’m saying I can talk to myself for a while…

I just really love the idea that people can talk about their backgrounds for the first 5 minutes of a virtual event.
It’s an easy icebreaker and avoids the awkward “waiting room” situation before the event starts. Everyone gets a minute (or 30 seconds) to give a quick lowdown on their story. 

Some other quick wins include asking them to mockup a virtual background using their favourite colour (this one looks EPIC, see below)

OR their favourite art is also a great one!

The MOST EPIC of all may be asking them to choose the best meme they’ve seen lately….

BUT i hear you, these are great ways to have more fun on zoom, but how is this creating community identity?

Well it is one small step towards that. It’s certainly creating a better sense of belonging and I like to think that by giving your members the choice to be creative and show who they are to others, it helps the community as a whole form an identity. 

Here’s how I would go ALL IN on identity for a community
hosting a virtual event with participants’ video on

* Ask video participants BEFORE the event to create their virtual background with Canva etc.
* Ensure the request ties in with your community.

EXAMPLE: An imaginary community called “Home @ Ate”

Imagine a community of foodies who were obsessed with cooking at home during Covid lockdown.
The group is called “Home @ Ate” and they have a cute logo of a man holding an @ sign.

There is a virtual event coming up for this group to talk about recipes.

1 WEEK BEFORE THE EVENT:
Ask the members that you want them to create a custom zoom background to use at the event.
They must upload a photo of one of their proudest food creations (we all know they took photos).
Provide them the canva link to create the zoom background.

Now here’s the kicker to adding in more community “identity” into the mix...
Ask them to also creatively include the logo of the man holding the @ sign in their background.
Make sure you provide them the logo with transparent background.

As the community manager, you should create an example to send to them.
And you should definitely be turning up to the event with your own “I made this myself” virtual background.

Need a visual?
See below – it’s not perfect, but it’s not meant to be! I mocked this up in 5 minutes…
Your community members will surprise you.
Make sure it’s something they will be passionate about creating.
Your main goal is to encourage connection whilst breaking the ice and hopefully get a few laughs.
You can also use fun filters etc, whatever works.

Imagine if the members turned up to your virtual event with fun backgrounds that truly did give others. a sense of what your community stands for?
Sure some of them won’t bother making a background, but that’s ok.
They can still applaud the ones who did.

You just need some really engaged members to make an effort, and you can use this to build your identity further after the event.

POST EVENT:
Post photos of the event to the community after with these fun virtual backgrounds.
Take a screenshot of the event with everyone’s background from either the recording or during the event.
I know people ask for a group “wave” etc. Try to ask them to interact with their backgrounds in a funny way.
It’s a much better photo op for members to feel less awkward.

Images such as the above always show how fun the virtual event actually was.

There are many other ways to creatively build your community identity, such as swag (but make sure it’s something your members ACTUALLY want, NOT another water bottle) and community rituals. More on that another day!

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