The Fierce Loyalty Model:How to Accelerate Your Community

By Caitlin Struhs posted Oct 02, 2014 05:47 PM


Sarah Robinson is President and CEO of Sarah Robinson, Co., as well as author of “Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities.” Her keynote at this year’s Super Forum outlined how to build a thriving, successful community and accelerate its evolution.

Sarah Robinson is a fiercely loyal Alabama football fan. It may seem irrelevant at first, but people can learn a lot about fierce loyalty and devoted communities from sports teams and fans. For instance, Sarah grew up watching every football game by the TV with her brothers, oversized and branded football helmet teetering on her head.  She still shows up no matter what.

This commonality is the basis from which the Fierce Loyalty Model stems. Sarah encourages anyone seeking to build a community, to ask about commonality and the value you and your community will bring. She was quick to admire the Super Forum’s atmosphere of learning and already fiercely loyal communities. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue benefiting from finding commonality and advancing through our own evolution.

From here, there are a few standby lists that Sarah suggests implementing along the way to becoming fiercely loyal and accelerating your communities. She encourages everyone to remember: whatever anyone is up to in the world, they’re looking for a community.

List 1: Find and Present Your ROIs

Sarah encourages everyone to ask two questions when considering building a community: what compelling value will you bring to members, and what value will the community bring to your organization? Here is where you can flesh out the buy-in you need by outlining your top returns on investment:

1.     Empowered evangelists: this marketing isn’t for sale at any price.

2.     Grassroots research and development team: hand off your idea to the community, and they will improve it.

3.     Hungry client base: they’ll stand it in line for your stuff because you created it just for them.

4.     Reduced member attrition: members are loyal and won’t leave the brand community.

5.     Happier members: they don’t eat up your time or energy; they’re just happy you’re doing great work.

List 2: Top Three Processes in the Fierce Loyalty Model

Next, spend time digging deeper into the people around you and their interests:

1.     Framed by common interest: This is bigger than a product or hobby—for Harley Davidson riders it is personal freedom, for pet owners buying
organic food is it holistic care.

2.     Listen for people already talking about interests and common needs: Don’t be in the convincing business—take ideas and opportunities from
preexisting communities and their members.

3.     Look for people raising their hands (belonging, recognition, safety): There are those who show up every day to answer questions, feel a sense of
security, and belong to a group that values multiple opinions. Think about unique communities like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and Weight

List 3: The Three Pillars and Advanced Evolution

The three pillars can be relatively straightforward to obtain and maintain:

  • Connection points: members feel a sense of loyalty, community, engagement and happiness
  • Support: the actions of giving and getting support increases overall happiness
  • Predictability: how the community operates, maintains rules and sets schedules

But Sarah explains that this is a point when a lot of communities get to and stay here, stuck. To unstick your community, she encourages one more level of work: advanced evolution. This is where fierce loyalty really comes into play, so take these three extra steps:

  • Pride: wear the swag, talk up being part of the club
  • Trust: every member has your back
  • Passion: it’s part of your life, you identify yourself with the community

List 4: Fierce Loyalty Accelerators

Read through Sarah’s list of community accelerators, and think about how you can implement some or all of these into your community to make it fiercely loyal.

1.     Make members feel valued and important
This isn’t the same as telling them. Ask your members what they want, and use that feedback.

2.     Create something together
The creation process is where people let their guard down, laugh and bond together.

3.     Fight a common enemy
Find where you can plant your flag, and fight for it. One of Higher Logic’s enemies could be the lack of technology in schools, in which HL Cares is leading the charge.

4.     Create a culture of We
Where you work or how long you’ve been there isn’t the point, so make sure to encourage language and activities that support “We.”

5.     Empower members to make the community their own
User-generated content is part of how you help members make the community their own, and they will defend it.

6.     Build in exclusivity
You can’t please everyone, but you can create appeal for certain audiences. Make the process to get in a fun one.

7.     Create a barrier to entry
Short applications, quizzes, games—the barrier should be simple and aligned with your exclusivity, but beyond just writing a check.

8.     Stand for something bold
It’s additional time and energy, but you will gather devoted people and rise above the inundation of media and noise if your community and its message are bold.

9.     Build an organizational structure with an eye towards pride, trust and passion

10.  Initiate opportunities for shared experiences
Super Forum is an excellent example of a shared, face-to-face experience for HUG.

11.  BONUS: Love your community
Your community should be like a significant relationship—they will frustrate, disappoint, amaze, astound and show you things you didn’t know you were capable of. Love them through it all, and before they love you back.