It only takes one guy to start a party.Sasquatch Dancing Man

In this humorous YouTube video that is quickly reaching viral status, one lone dancing man at the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington starts a massive dance party – and a revolution.

Many are citing the Sasquatch Dancing Man – or “SDM” as some are calling him – as a prime illustration of the ideal online community growth cycle. There are a number of important lessons to take away from this video, so we’ll highlight just a few here.

Building a following takes persistence.

It’s only 18 short seconds before SDM gains a follower, but longer versions of the video show him dancing alone for a minute and a half. For all we know, he was dancing by himself for hours before anyone had the courage to join in.

As a brand, your marketing attempts to build a community can’t be a one-shot event. Too often, ambitious attempts to build online communities are abandoned when the desired results aren’t instantaneous, leaving “ghost town” communities behind.

It takes time to grow a following. Commit to persistently promoting your offering over time to capture the innovators who will give your community life.

Early-adopters are crucial to bridging the gap.

SDM’s first two partners are the most important contributors to the formation of his dance mob. It takes courage to get up and dance, but once they do, it becomes increasingly easier for others to join the fray.

Early-adopters bridge your community to the majority. These contributors have the courage and motivation to join the conversation with innovators, and once they do, there is exponentially less risk for others to join. It’d be impossible to reach the tipping point seen in the video – where not dancing becomes against the norm – without first attracting the brave few who get the ball rolling.

In order to attract these early-adopters to your brand community, make contribution as easy as possible. Offer many ways to contribute with varying levels of involvement to capture enough early-adopters to take your community mainstream.

Participation begets participation.

At a certain point in the video, it becomes against the norm to refrain from dancing. There is no longer any social risk in participating – indeed, such a large mass has joined the party that it’s the people sitting, not SDM and his followers, who are out of place.

This same momentum effect exists in online communities. We’ve had clients tell us they were able to turn off solicitations for stories or reviews because an “accidental community” formed around their product. Read our blog post on the Three Wolf Moon shirt.

Once the barriers to contribution are gone, people want to contribute. Customers who wouldn’t normally participate start to submit feedback. That’s way customers bother to write the 1,001st review for a product, or the sixth answer to a question – they want to contribute to conversations that have helped them, and it’s become the norm to do so.

Read what others are saying about the video here.

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