That identity bond is hugely powerful.

How to Build Identity to cement your online community

Your members have two hands on your private social network. One hand holds onto the people they know. That’s what keeps people on platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp: they join and stay because their friends have joined and stayed. If their friends were to leave they’d leave too…

The other hand holds onto the group itself. Members remain committed to political parties and pressure groups such as the NRA or Peta because they identify with the group, its aims and what the identification with the group says about them. Other members of the group may come and go but as long as they identify with the community, they’ll remain.

That identity bond is hugely powerful. It keeps members engaged even in the face of high membership turnover. It keeps them obeying the rules and the norms of the community even without active policing. And it keeps them tied closely to the community at all times.

Fostering that identity isn’t always complex. Even steps as simple as giving members a name such as “Hoosiers” or “Rednecks” can help to create bonds that go beyond person-to-person. Clear community goals, whether that’s winning the league or keeping the beach clean can help too, and so can opposition. Communities for brands with clear rivals such as Mustang and Camaro cars are among the strongest because any lower engagement is a win for the opposition. Use friendly rivalry in your content to highlight an out-group and people will stay in.

When your members’ hands hold onto their friends and onto the identity of your community, you’ll be hugging them close.

That’s all for now! In the next message, I’ll discuss the welcome you give to new members.

Brought to you by Merav Knafo
Former CEO of

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