In our line of work, we know innovation is not possible with a mob. Crowds need more than a platform and a connection to a brand; crowds need a sense of community...
These early crowdsourcing experiments demonstrated that when you treat a crowd as disposable and anonymous, you prevent them from achieving their maximum ability. Disposable crowds create disposable output. Simply put: crowds need a sense of identity and community to achieve their potential.
How can you identify a community?
Identity and community are tricky. There are no metrics for either, and no statistic can ensure that your community is engaged and unique. Healthy communities have disagreements, create controversy, and engage in confusing ways. It is common for crowds to separate themselves into smaller groups as they determine who they are most compatible with. Crowd members may have emotional outbursts towards one another, and rifts and rivalries may occur. Crowd members may reach out and become shockingly supportive, fostering a sense of safety within the online space. The emergence of all of this behavior is awesome, because this is exactly how people behave. When the crowd starts to mimic real life, you know it is being done right.
What's a mob?
Quite simply put, a mob is a collection of individuals with no personal accountability. No identities, no connections, and no honesty. Mobs are volatile and uncontrollable, and will inevitably create more chaos than harmony.
Mobs need only three ingredients to thrive: anonymity, an audience, and an emotional trigger. All of these things are readily found in web-based communities. The best way to defuse a mob? Remove the anonymity. As soon as the community is filled with stable identities, the mob won't find sympathy for destructive behavior. Establish a sense of identity and community in your crowd, and keep the mob out by nurturing this healthy crowd behavior.
Crowds are powerful systems to achieve many different goals. Like any other working body, crowds require maintenance and cultivation to thrive.
Foster a sense of identity and community in your crowd, or lose them to the mob. Your choice.
How do you create community online? Let us know in the comments below.