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The Power Of An Enemy (Or Threat)

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

One after another, SEO professionals took to the stage and attacked Google.

Google is working in mysterious ways.

‘It broke authorships!’

‘It’s changing our rankings!’

‘It’s punishing and attacking us!’

You might think this breeds an atmosphere of enmity. SEO is, to some extent, a zero-sum game. If I rank first for “online communities” then you can’t.

This should build a deep well of distrust and suspicion.

Yet the opposite happens. It’s the common enemy that brings the crowd closer together. Of the events I’ve attended, few (if any) had the sense of community felt by those at MozCon. They’re all in this together. They’re all the little guys being picked on by a bigger enemy (an enemy they need to survive, no less).

When you have a common enemy that is perceived to be constantly attacking you, when you can genuinely perceive yourself as the weaker guy in the fight, you will find you feel a strong connection to others in that same position. You feel a greater sense of unity with them.

It stands to reason then, that if we can create a plausible enemy to our group – someone whose beliefs or actions conflict or threaten our own efforts – if we can make the group feel we are being constantly attacked by a bigger threat, the sense of community should significantly increase.

That’s not easy to do (it’s risky too). Yet we see this is what Apple did to IBM and then Microsoft. This is what fresh, healthy, foods do to McDonalds.

It works best when it’s something large, in your field, and is a threat to your audience.

You can gradually drop in negative references to the enemy in content, discussions, and other material. It’s less difficult than you might imagine.

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?

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