The Power of Online Communities

This post was inspired by a random DM from @RepuTrack

As social media inculcates itself into the mainstream, it becomes obvious that the principles governing its successful use have indeed been around for years, echoing traditional models of engagement that have formed the basis of many a tried and true best practices for business, social relations and information aggregation.

SingSing tribe gathering Papua New Guinea

photo sourced from Flickr via Mct-Enigma

But I rarely come across promoted evidence of the raw power of online social interaction, specifically in the way it yields tangible results for established online communities.

Now I don’t discount the fact that many social sites have ran successful campaigns by leveraging influence within their own respective ‘tribes’. So I’m shining the spotlight on this one example:

Tribal convergence
Thanks to a link referral by @RepuTrack, I was compelled to share the story of certain members of an online community (Collectors Society) who recently reached out within its tribal ranks to raise funds in honour of a fellow member (Nik) who suddenly passed away and has left a family behind. The link is a must-read as I won’t be citing specific references to this touching story here. Long and short of it? If I were to encapsulate it in a headline: Loss of valued tribe member (and his influence) fuels tribal convergence and call to action.

Leveraging native tools
What fascinates me with this story is how the fund raising process takes place: an auction process, which also serves as a central tool used by the community. Now that’s what I call true leverage. A tribe that uses tools, which typically benefit individual means, can equally turn around to transform and use the same tools towards a common altruistic goal.

What you give is what you get. In a matter of days following the initial arm that reached out, donations to help Nik’s family have reached well over $23,000. And that’s just monies from a single donation source! The last comment line on this thread sums up the profound impact of communal action: This place is more of a family than most families. I am so proud of all of you. That’s quite the statement. Moreover, it’s hardcore testament to how tightly-knit this community really is.

Faith as objective catalyst
I keep coming across many lessons offered on social engagement. At times I hear rumblings in the form of tweets that question whether or not we are over-using (or really *getting*) the term engage, engaging and engagement (via @Filterologist) Her point is well taken. Often these references are thrown around gatuitously that they risk being perceived as lightweight buzzwords.

But I think this story here begs to differ. Call it faith, communal spirit, tribal consensus, or just plain human compassion. It’s a visceral reality—a natural reflex in the form of an emotional response borne out of significant social engagement. And yet despite its subjective quality its purpose remains objective: to help, to contribute, to make a difference.

There is untold power within well nurtured communities. If you feel you’re part of one or aspire to help build one, ask yourself: will my call be heard if I ever need to reach out?

5 thoughts on “The Power of Online Communities

  1. Wow, what a great case example. It truly shows the focused power of Social Media and how it’s spreading to some very unique and interesting situations!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Definitely a well written example which gives props to how Social Media can truly deliver. I especially enjoyed what was mentioned in the last comment stating, “this place is more of a family than most families”. It is amazing to me how often I have heard that same line from individuals sharing something wonderful online; specifically where Social Media plays catalyst role in its nurturing.


  3. Nice story. Definitely online communities are becoming real communities, with the same principles, rules and behaviors. Maybe we don’t have to distinguish online things from real things any more. In fact, are they so different?

    As always, pleased to read your insights on Social Media stuff.

  4. Another good post! Love reading your insights on Social Media and how it not only relates to the “real world” but that it in fact IS the real world.

    I think as all things, you get out what you put in. If you make the time to help, contribute, and make a difference using social media…you’ll probably get a huge amount of value out of it. If you are like a person that just started following me (who knows why) that has 15 gazillion followers and has sent out 4 tweets…probably not, and they are missing out on true relationship building.

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