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How You Can Create A Sense Of Belonging, Not Just One Way Traffic From You

a sense of belonging

Forming a sense of belonging is stronger than the isolation of one-way communication.

Any message, whether a LinkedIn post to a paid ad, can be a lonely place to sit, when it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, apart from you.

This article is about the fact that you can no longer rely on buying people’s attention in the hope that they will think favourably of you. Alternatively, making others feel a part of something is a new form of transaction in itself.

Getting people to stay with you and remain loyal is not about throwing money at the issue. It is time to figure out how to make something worthwhile when a person gives you their attention.


One Way Streets Don’t Work

Just broadcasting your messages of achievement and self-awareness can be a one-way direction of solitude. It just sums up the way that many behave today, on a business and also on a personal level. Whilst we are more connected than ever before, we are even more detached from each other.

On a societal level, isolation is and detachment is more recognised than ever. The UK introduced in January the world’s first Minister for Loneliness. Tracey Crouch was given this role by the government following a study that over nine million Britons often or always feel lonely.

Moving things to a B2B level, if people feel they belong to something, you do not necessarily need to always pay to put your message in front of strangers. Having a sense of belonging is when there is a shared status and ideology, not living a lonely B2B existence pretending that the like you received from a software company in Dallas has some form of depth.


What I Noticed

I have seen two sides of this is in the past two weeks. Let me share this with you.

Let’s start with the lonely side.

The monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club, I decided to spend a small budget on paid advertising for the September event. Whilst my Facebook ads are infrequent, I have put a small budget behind two Lunch Clubs in 2018. The ad was targeted within the local conurbation and a small bit in neighbouring Hampshire.

The event response was minimal and worked out at £2 per click and not one ad transferred to a ticket sold. Hands up, I was pushing a message to people who were unfamiliar with Lunch Club and You Are The Media. I was guilty of looking to interrupt someone else’s feed with something that they have no affiliation with. All I became was a mist amongst the other ads of not to be missed events, writing books in three days and achieving success in the shortest amount of time. Guilty, I wasn’t practicing what I preach.

Let’s share with you the alternative side.

The new You Are The Media Facebook Group (set up at the end of August) has become a place where conversation flows, people reach out, there is familiarity all round and it all feels easier. The group is not something I promote on social channels or the first DM reply when I connect to someone else on another channel with a ‘make sure you like our Facebook page’ type reply. It is made up of those people who are part of the You Are The Media community, where the conversation continues and people are familiar.

In the build-up to this article, I posted in the group and asked them why they made the decision to join the Facebook Group.

For the record, I am not doing this for some sort of self-gratification, I want to prove the point that shared interests go far beyond individual product benefits. It is all about the familiarity that you nurture.

Let me share with you what they said:


Liz Gordon, from marketing consultancy, Brilliant Fish said, “I see myself as most definitely a ‘member’ of YATM and considered the Facebook group would be an extension of the support and networking that we experience at each meeting. It’s also a way of staying connected.”

Fleur Cook, from recruitment company, Rock Recruitment said, “The group gives us the chance to continue conversations that we all have when we see each other at Lunch Club. For me, it’s been a fantastic help for someone on their marketing career journey!”

Liam Toms, from business telecoms and IT company, Grapevine, “Whether it was the original intention or not, there is an honest space for people to meet and share ideas, without the usual b****** pretending we know it all. It feels like we’re taking on the “post-truth” era from our home offices, rented desks and borrowed spaces in this humble county by the sea.”

Heather Brown, caterer and food writer said, “I joined in the hope that the YATM community would be extended online and continue to be an encouraging, helpful, positive place where individuals and businesses are supported, equipped and championed without being constantly ‘sold’ to or the narrative being just one way.”

Lee Taylor, from solicitors, Steele Raymond said, “No matter how big or small your business it can get isolating when you’re trying to drive a new or unfamiliar strategy forward. But I know I can speak openly about challenges I’m facing. I know for a fact that I can rely on the group for ideas, opinions, support. I guess we are all on that train journey together jumping on and off the train at different points. But unlike some trains, we make eye contact and talk to each other.”

Gordon Fong, from hosting company Datacenta Hosting said, “It’s another channel to the You Are The Media network of people that I have grown to have a connection to over time. It’s an extension of the existing connection.”


From the input above, when you create different ways to build a dialogue and be a part of the channel you interact within, this is how communities are built.

You build a town of like-minded people to talk with and not dictate to. This is happening first hand at the moment with the You Are The Media project. This is also what you can do to build a loyal audience where you are not always scratching around for the next big idea.

This has nothing to do with banging the drum about ‘purpose’ but creating familiarity with simplicity ie. it’s not just about how a content marketing approach can work for others, but how businesses can generate loyalty through trust.


Nine Belonging Elements That I Am Learning

I don’t have the answers, but this is what I am learning when you put the emphasis on belonging, rather than just pure conversion.


You have to show up and acknowledge that the answer is not always on paying to be seen.

Perhaps the biggest investment to get people to trust is the commitment of time. For people to be comfortable, they have to see the pain and sweat first. To get others onboard at first they have to see something in return that will make them sit back and say, ‘fair play.’


It is better to build something with a bit of a track record before you start the ‘ask’.

Having the ability to show and share the proof is stronger than telling other people how to behave but have no evidence to share. When it comes to my ‘ask’ this is for people to pay to come to a Lunch Club or book a place at the You Are The Media Conference.


People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care (Theodore Roosevelt said this).

Having a Twitter post that says, ‘another great article from us’ means nothing, all it highlights is a company looking to advertise themselves for free. If you are looking to build a space within a marketplace, there has to be something that lets you connect with others.


People are encouraged to participate and discuss, not hang around on the bottom deck.

When your efforts have other people on board, other people are more inclined to share or tell their network that hanging out in your space was a worthwhile effort. For instance, this article will acknowledge on the Facebook Group, LinkedIn and Twitter the people who shared their voices, above.


It is better to have a sense of curiosity, rather than always telling everyone that you know the answers.

As Liam Toms said, above, “there is an honest space for people to meet and share ideas, without the usual b****** pretending we know it all.” It is far easier to start everything with ‘I believe,’ rather than backing up with proof, knowledge and their own experiences.


You can make generosity more than a buzzword.

An approach that is centred on giving, rather than gating everything you do, creates inclusivity all round. When it is time to add monetary value to something, then people already have the places they have become familiar with. Why gate something that people can get in abundance elsewhere? There are far better places on content marketing than there are card tricks that only those in the magic circle are privy to.


The bonds you make are stronger when you accept that the masses on social media will never be your friends.

There is no point in telling everyone that you have achieved the next level up on LinkedIn by reaching the next thousandth connection when you will probably never have any form of interaction. All it becomes is a race to collect as many LinkedIn Panini stickers as you can. When you accept that it is more about being relevant to 100 people, rather than 10,000 people, you start to focus on your true audience.


Different mediums serve different purposes.

My medium has always been writing as a way to get people to exchange ie. provide their email. For you it may be video, it may be audio. As you become comfortable on one channel, you can then branch out into other spaces. For instance, the weekly You Are The Media email is to inform, this Facebook Group is to exchange, Lunch Club is to interact, the podcast is to listen and the conference is for deeper learning.


Inclusion becomes a marketing framework to live by.

Making people feel a part of something is when there is a shared belief. You can’t put up walls of vagueness when your goal is to trick people or treat everyone as a lead via a download/webinar/book.

Let’s Round Up

Content can either be used to persuade or it can work more effectively better when it sits alongside a sense of belonging where everyone has a voice.

Pushing out one-way communication is a lonely place when you don’t know where it is going and who is paying attention.

As a small business, you can put your best foot forward and be in a more agile place than your larger counterparts. These are places where the whole process is slowed down buy looking for buy-in from stakeholders, investors and staff.

A shared identity and ideology is about finding a common ground with others, rather than thinking that you always have to be the polar opposite of everyone else.

When you find the place to connect and recognise that there is abundance in something shared, you can build an army of others looking for the truth and a mutual trust all round. It all comes from creating a sense of belonging.


The picture at the top is Chris Marr, Jason Miller and myself. 

If you would like to be a part of the You Are The Media Facebook Group click here 

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