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Power of Purpose


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In the world of online community management, purpose is the compass that guides every action. It's not just a buzzword; it's the driving force that keeps the community thriving. But defining and living that purpose can be a real challenge. Many online communities struggle to create purpose statements that truly resonate with their members and reflect their unique value. So, how can online community managers harness the power of purpose to motivate their members and ensure their community thrives?

Crafting a Purpose Statement

A purpose statement for an online community is more than just words; it's a call to action. It should not only inspire your members but also align with your community's strategic goals. Think of it as the North Star that guides your community's journey. Unfortunately, not all purpose statements hit the mark. Just like in the corporate world, many online communities fall short in this area.

Connecting Your Community to Its Purpose

Imagine this: you're part of an online community, but you're not quite sure why it exists or what value it brings to your life. It's a common problem. A recent survey found that only a fraction of community members felt truly connected to their community's purpose. To bridge this gap, your community's purpose statement should speak to its unique value and the positive impact it can have on members' lives.

Execution Is Key

A purpose statement is only as good as its execution. In the world of online communities, this means ensuring that your community's structure, systems, and resources are all geared towards bringing that purpose to life. Just like a well-oiled machine, your community needs the right tools and support to thrive.

Real-World Examples

Let's take a look at some real-world examples. 

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture manufacturer and retailer, has a clear message about the value it offers. It promises “to create a better everyday life for the many people”—as distinct from the affluent few—by “offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Lego, the world’s largest toy company, doesn’t just sell toys; it strives for “the development of children’s creativity through play and learning.” To fulfill that promise, it designs compelling sets of blocks that can be assembled in myriad ways. Just as critically, it fosters online and in-person communities of enthusiasts of all ages, in order to inspire ongoing engagement, learning, creativity, and innovation. It does this through initiatives such as the Ambassador Network, a communication and support platform for adult fans; Lego Ideas, a website that lets users submit ideas for new Lego sets; galleries featuring users’ creations; and Lego Life, a social media network for kids.

Breaking Down Silos

In online community management, it's essential to break down silos and foster collaboration across boundaries. Just like in the corporate world, cross-functional teams can gather expertise from different areas. However, they often face time constraints. To improve collaboration, consider freeing up team members from certain duties or rethinking your community's structure.

Investing in Purpose

Investing in your community's purpose is vital for member motivation. Focus on delivering value rather than meeting external benchmarks. Strong leaders embody the community's purpose through their actions and words. They communicate priorities and spend time engaging with members.

Holding Each Other Accountable

Boards play a critical role in ensuring that the community lives up to its purpose. They should ask tough questions and hold the management team accountable for their decisions.

In the world of online community management, purpose is the guiding light that ensures your community thrives. Crafting a purpose statement that truly resonates, connecting with that purpose, and executing it effectively are the keys to success. So, let your community's purpose be your North Star, guiding you towards a brighter and more engaging online community.

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