Study after study shows that developing a strong sense of community leads to every possible benefit you want.
It leads to higher levels of customer retention, repeat purchases, premium purchases, and advocacy.
It leads to higher levels of knowledge exchange among employees (or customers).
It leads to higher levels of employee retention and productivity.
To build a strong sense of community you must accept that frivolity.
A few years ago a group of new friends and I attended the Chess-Boxing World Champions (yup). It's a silly event, but led to plenty of in-jokes amongst us. We jokingly share the latest chess boxing news with one another. When asked how we all met, we can say through chess-boxing. We reference it often.
It's all frivolous, but it has helped us feel a strong bond with one another.
If you really want to construct a strong group identity, you're going to have to allow the frivolous stuff. People are going to talk and, yes, makes dumb jokes. They're going to go wildly off topic and express emotions at times. They're going to do all the things that you and your friends to when you get together.
…and this is exactly what you want!.
This is all a good thing. Don't worry about this. This is healthy.
The danger isn't that they do this, it's that they don't do it.
It's that they stay in the polite space where they interact, but only at the superficial level – always concerned never to do or say anything that might upset any member of the group.
Scott Peck labelled this the pseudocommunity stage. In this phase, members never really express themselves honestly, build real relationships, or feel a strong sense of group identity.
Politeness may look good and frivolity may look bad. But for building communities, the opposite holds true. Reject the former and accept the latter.
On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?