If you were asked to describe your relationship with social media, what would you say? Are your feelings for social media the same for both your personal or business accounts? Personally, I would say my relationship with social media is complicated at best. Like many of you, I enjoy catching up with friends and sharing a great selfie (52 attempts later), but there is a component to social media that is not healthy for mental health and can be the killer of productivity. Yet our human need to belong and be apart of community has moved to the digital space and so has your business' need to thrive, attract clients, and remain relevant in a noisy over-crowded online world.
The founder and CEO of Thetis and Themis Inclusive Equanimity (T & Tie), Katie Moran, shares her values and beliefs around building strong communities focused on the group of people you exist to serve. As an author, a social entrepreneur, and an advocate for social injustice, Katie gives us the opportunity to not only look at the culture of the platforms she is creating, but we also get to see how her values align and impact her purpose and life's work.
Building an online community is not the easiest task, but a necessary one for nearly every entrepreneur or brand. Katie's relatability is that in building her online communities on Instagram, Twitter and her Summation 52 platform, she started from zero followers like we all do. Rather than being focused on and driven by the numbers of followers, Katie's approach is much more heart-felt and intentional. She explains that, "the most important part about building a community is knowing what your community is and building it before they get there." In the beginning you can expect there to be uncomfortable silence and what feels like rejection as you create a space or "build a home" as Katie views it, for the people you are inviting to be apart of your community.
"the most important part about building a community is knowing what your community is and building it before they get there." -Katie Moran
When you allow your values to be the lens through which you see your community and its purpose, there is a level of vulnerability that begets courage which in turn reveals authenticity. Katie's ability to push through the discomfort of starting her community was in the meaning her content held for her. As a social entrepreneur and advocate her content varies, but her poetry is real and raw so when people read it, she was able to connect in a much more powerful way.
In the book, Get Together: How to build a community with your people, by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, et al. a wonderful story is shared about community built around vulnerability and authenticity. Lola Omolola started a Facebook group, Female In Nigeria, as a safe space where Nigerian women could share their stories without shame and judgement. Her group is supportive, transformative and liberating. She is quoted in Get Together saying, "with FIN [Female In Nigeria], I found people who also cared about something that mattered to me all of my life -something I had been alone worrying about." I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneur or professional, as creating a community starts with focusing on the simplicity of knowing for who and why you are doing this.
Too often entrepreneurs take to social media looking to build a following as a prescribed standard for finding and scouting potential clients. They focus on the number of contacts and getting emails to go for the sale, always leaving with a call to action...yes these things are important. I am not criticizing for including these as part of building the business either. I am saying there should be a clear distinction and separation of intention, or purification of the intention behind building online presence through community.
What if you shifted the focus of your online community to knowing who you are attracting and why this community (or home) you are creating for them is going to be a safe space where they could be supported, heard and valued, not pitched to?
In his YouTube interview with Lewis Howes, Seth Godin speaks to this in a slightly different way. He says, "No one accidentally buys a book... so you get to start with 'this is where I'm going, do you want to come'... that is one of the critical elements of greatness, is being open to only go there with people who want to go with you." Connecting to a person rather than having someone blindly follow you and heart your posts will lead to a much more fulfilling and engaged platform than the alternative.
In the legendary book, Bold, Peter Diamandis says, "the best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people." Katie's compassion and heart-felt intention behind building her online platforms speak to what Diamandis is saying directly. Show up everyday for yourself because you made a commitment to real connection, to true service of others, and to being the solution to whatever specific human problem you are solving.
Katie challenged herself to write and publish a poem every Monday for an entire year. The result was the release of her book of poetry, The Spirit Inside. This commitment was not just a one-year commitment to writing poetry, it was a commitment to the platform she created, Summation 52. As the creator of this community, Katie knew she was building a home where other poets and advocates could be comfortable sharing their voices because she first opened up and shared hers. When asked how she honored her commitment to write and publish every Monday, Katie admits to the one day she decided not to write or publish a poem.
The interesting thing about operating in total alignment with your values and purpose, and knowing the heart of what matters to you most and your identity, is that in the face of conflict your core will override whatever is contrary. Katie's commitment to herself was so much stronger than the decision she attempted, that the poem was written and publish still within the timeline she set to be the standard. The payoff? "Thank goodness I did this." (Katie Moran).
Vulnerability fosters genuine connection. Showing up and allowing the heart to lead because you have courage and know what you stand for is a bold step toward building an online community. Regardless of the business you have, the question is how will you approach growing your brand's online community? When you combine Diamandis' idea of solving a billion problems for a billion people with Katie's compassion culture that says you show up to connect with what matters, then you can get to the next level of success.
T & Tie advocates for social injustice, unites non-profits and volunteers to support a more mindful and intentional experience through compassion culture and , features other advocates under the vision and values of Katie Moran. She is a writer and champion of the people that is creating platforms to amplify the voices of others that need to be heard.
Founder & CEO of Thetis & Themis Inclusive Equanimity