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  • Writer's pictureAndy Punter

Creating Sticky Communities Part 2 - Vertical Glue

This is part 2 of a three-part series on building sticky communities. If you missed part 1, you can read it here.


Introduction:

In community building, the first step to creating a thriving, engaged community is attracting individuals to your events. This magnetic pull, what we at More Human refer to as "vertical glue," is about drawing people in by appealing to their interests and values. But how can community organisers master vertical glue to ensure their events are attracting the right people?


What do we mean by Vertical Glue?

Vertical glue is what we bond with others over. Usually, this is our interests and values. When people talk about finding their tribe, the activity they want to take part in is usually where they start looking. For example, you’ve been reading about the benefits of open-water swimming and fancy having a go. The vertical glue in this case is the open water swimming, it’s the shared interest that unites you with all the other people who are interested in the same thing. As an organiser, finding people with that shared interest and letting them know that they have come to the right place is your challenge.


p.s. we work with some awesome open swimming communities so if this connects with you, we heartily recommend getting in touch with Mental Health Swims or The Bluetits as great examples.




Understanding Your Audience:

The journey to a successful event begins long before the doors open—it starts with a deep understanding of who you're inviting. Identifying your target participant involves more than just demographics; it's about getting to the heart of what drives them, their passions, and the change they seek in joining your community. Think about who is coming, not just what they are coming to. Empathising with your community is the cornerstone of More Human’s philosophy.

Who is the person thinking about coming along to your group for the first time? How might they be feeling or be nervous about? How can you use your marketing materials to proactively answer any questions they might have and help them feel at ease? What might stop someone from coming along and how can you reassure them that you have created a welcoming space for them?


Maximising Your Event’s Appeal:

Making events appealing to your target audience requires a deliberate act of design that involves several key strategies:


  1. Be clear: People considering whether to come to your events want to know all sorts of things, so be clear about the key info and explain to them what to expect, what to bring, who else might be there etc. Try to use your marketing to answer some of these questions proactively and you’ll likely find more people make their way to your meetups.

  2. Establish Common Ground: In every message, signal that your audience belongs. Use language and imagery that reflect them, saying, "If you've ever felt X, we understand. You're not alone." Use images and branding to signal to people that this is the community for them.

  3. Create Shared Meaning: Inspire participation by highlighting the purpose or intention of your event or group. When people see that their participation contributes to a larger cause or community, engagement becomes meaningful.


Lower Barriers to Participation:

Addressing potential barriers is crucial in turning interest into action. This means providing clear, reassuring information about what to expect and actively removing logistical, financial, or emotional obstacles. Strategies like offering a buddying system for newcomers or ensuring events are accessible to all play a significant role in More Human’s approach to inclusive community building.


Embedding best practice:

At More Human, we go beyond theory. Our services are designed to make the process of applying these principles as easy as possible, allowing organisers to focus on what truly matters—the community. From intuitive event creation tools to comprehensive guides on engagement, we're here to support every step of your journey.


Conclusion:

The magic of vertical glue lies not just in attracting attendees to your events but in igniting a sense of belonging and anticipation. It’s about crafting an invitation that speaks directly to the community, promising an experience that aligns with individual aspirations and communal values. As we continue to explore the nuances of community building at More Human, we invite you to join us in mastering the art of vertical glue, transforming your events into beacons of connection and growth.

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