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A Model for Understanding & Building Fierce Loyalty [Bonus Day – 28 Days to BFL]


This is Leap Year Bonus Day of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Today I’m unveiling something I’ve been working on for the past several months.Strike that. It’s something I’ve been working on my whole life.  It is the culmination of everything I’ve ever done. Wherever I go, whatever job I have, whatever clients I’m helping, I build communities. And not just any communities. I build Fiercely Loyal ones. Read on to learn how you can do that, too. 🙂

A Model for Understanding & Building Fierce Loyalty

By: Sarah Robinson| @SarahRobinson

Since the age of the dinosaur (I’m that old), I’ve been building communities. I built them in college, and I’ve built them for universities, nonprofits, political campaigns, blogs, businesses, clients – everywhere I’ve ever been.

I build them because they 1) make my job more fun and 2) make getting my job accomplished so much easier.  Over time, I’ve gotten better and better at not only building them, but at infusing them with fierce loyalty. And that’s the part that really excites me.

After picking apart my successes and researching what other super smart people have to say about community and loyalty (and with the help of the ridiculously talented trio of Janet Goldstein, Elizabeth Marshall and Les McKeown), I’ve put together a model that gives us a framework both for understanding how community happens and for what it takes to build fierce loyalty around whatever it is we are up to in the world.

Drum roll please………

Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities

The Frame:
All communities are framed by a common interest. This common interest might be in your product directly (for example people who are interested in organic dog food) or it may be about a bigger subject that is connected to your product (holistic pet care). Without this frame to hold everything together, community and fierce loyalty can’t evolve.

(I made these slides myself. So don’t make fun of them!)

Inside the Frame:
Within that frame are a wide variety of individuals who share that common interest. Using the example above, these individuals could be pet owners, veterinarians, animal trainers, pet sitters, etc.

Circle #1: What Some of These Individuals Need
A certain number of those individuals realize that they have a set of needs around this common interest. These needs fall into three categories:

1) Belonging

2) Recognition

3) Safety

Circle #2: Organizational Structure Shows Up

These individuals go looking for a way to get these needs met.  At this point one of two things can happen:

Option 1: Members of this subset find each other, get themselves organized and the structure for a community emerges (like the Occupy Movement).

Option 2: An outside organization provides the structure for a community and the individuals find their way there  (like Weight Watchers).

Either way, the organizational structure needed for community to happen includes these elements:

1) Predictability

2) Support

3) Connection

When these organizational elements meet those individuals who looking to fill their needs for belonging, recognition and safety, community happens.

This is the place where most communities reside. Conversations, connections and support are all happening in a predictable way. Community exists and everyone is content. BUT there is a vital missing circle. Vital, that is, if you want members of the community to feel Fierce Loyalty.

The missing circle can only develop after the other parts are in place and it can only develop when it’s given time to grow and flourish. The three crucial elements of that final circle are:

1) Pride

2) Passion

3) Trust

Pride, Trust and Passion cannot be manufactured or faked or rushed. They can, however, be encouraged, fostered and demonstrated. Given the right environment, they will take root and become the match that will ignite Fierce Loyalty in a community.

So there you are. – my Fierce Loyalty model. 🙂

Clearly, I have a lot more to say about it and this is only the beginning of the conversation. In fact, I have so much to say that I’ve built a brand new website just for Fierce Loyalty. I’m thrilled to invite you to check out

So…what do you think? Questions? Ideas? Comments? You always make the things I talk about so much smarter. 🙂

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