Great communities are dynamic, engaging, and evolving, and this applies to you too as a community builder, manager, or advocate. Your number one attribute for success is creativity. A creative community builder embraces the iterative nature of innovation, constantly seeking new ways to inspire, motivate, and connect with their community members. This involves staying curious, open-minded, and adaptable, as well as being willing to experiment with unconventional ideas and methods. As a creative community professional, you must also be adept at identifying emerging trends, technologies, and cultural shifts and leveraging them to enhance the community experience and ensure its continued relevance.
So, what is creativity? Is it one of those things that means everything and nothing at the same time. Do some people just got it while others do not? Can it be learned? I had the same questions until I discovered Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson.
I learned that the key elements of creativity are copy, transform, and combine. These elements serve as the foundation for innovation and creative thinking and can be applied to the realm of community building. Spend time copying. Write like your favorite author. Draw like your favorite TikTok’er. In the act of copying, you are going to learn, and you will learn what you like too. Then, you can start making changes and you will anyway. You can’t make perfect copies. You will make some subtle changes that will really produce a wide array of outcomes. At some point, you will start combining ideas and processes together to form new things. This is where creativity and invention happen. At first, I felt a little deflated when I learned what creativity was. I had this romantic notion that creativity was divine. You got ideas from the gods if you were a chosen one. Over time, disappointment gave way to opportunity. It was liberating; it was just a process. This notion fueled the rest of my career and still inspires me today, as I type.
Okay, back to community builders. How can we apply the creativity model to community building? I took a first pass at it and broke up the concept into the three elements of creativity.
Copy: The first step in the creative process, according to Kirby, is to copy existing ideas and models. For community builders, this means observing and learning from successful communities in various industries. Join Discord servers with community professionals. Join a professional network. Sign up for new platforms. By examining the strategies, structures, and engagement techniques employed by these communities, one can glean valuable insights and best practices that can be adapted to their own community-building efforts.
Transform: The next step is to transform the ideas you learn through coping. Make them unique and relevant to the specific context in which they will be applied. Community builders should not be afraid to experiment and iterate on existing models, adapting them to fit the unique needs, preferences, and values of their target audience. This process of transformation may involve modifying communication channels, creating tailored content, or introducing new engagement methods that resonate with the community’s members.
Combine: Combining multiple ideas and approaches can lead to innovative solutions and fresh perspectives. Community builders should seek to integrate diverse concepts and strategies from various sources, including marketing, psychology, sociology, and technology. For instance, they may choose to combine elements of storytelling with data-driven personalization to create highly engaging and relevant experiences for community members. By synthesizing different ideas, community builders can develop novel approaches that set their communities apart from the competition.
So, are you a creative community builder?