Photo Credit: Swiked/Tumblr

3 Lessons In Community Engagement From TheDress

I am SO over this winter. I am SO over shoveling the snow to make room for more snow. My social media feeds are populated by images of snow and comments about school closures. Only occasionally am I lucky enough to be treated to the creativity of others who post snapshots of elaborate tunnels, teetering snowmen, kid-friendly igloos, and intricately decorated snow castles.

Before I had a moment to accept the groundhog’s prediction that there were still several more weeks of winter, along came #TheDress. This blue and black — or is it white and gold dress — had thousands of people, of all ages, communicating their wisdom, quick wit and problem-solving skills openly. They posted, commented, ‘liked’, and tweeted. Social media feeds were filling with comments, solutions, scientific explanations, and viral engagement! Dramatically, I started to think about what this dress was really about. Why did people really care? Because people like to be engaged! Here are three lessons your organization, affinity group or business can learn from #TheDress:

1. What Do You See? A Call To Action. We have learned that messages that are accompanied by images increase online engagement at significantly higher rates than messaging without images. Immediately, upon receiving news of this exciting and thought-provoking dress image, people were being called upon by their friends, family, and co-workers to engage in a discussion. Individuals love an opportunity to express their opinions, to talk and debate and to engage. Clever dialogues taking place do bring people together. Are you asking questions and encouraging your community members, leaders, and donors to react and respond?

2. Your Opinion Matters. For many, the image of the dress sparked immediate conversation and debate and the diversity of opinions soared. There was no “right” or “wrong” answer – merely a series of intelligent exchanges about what colors we each see, and why. It’s important to value your donors, affiliates, and leaders. Ask for their opinions often. Ask them when it’s critical and ask when it’s trivial; it will go a long way toward developing member affinity and engagement in your work. Community engagement if done well means, “You matter to us.”

3. Timing Is Everything. We are OVER winter already. We are ready for the thaw, the green grass to peek out and for the tulips to arrive. A blue/black/gold/white dress image timed perfectly to distract us from the despair of winter was simply spectacular! Viral engagement happened instantaneously. Photos, dialogue, even leading brands promoting their cars, clothing, jewelry, and liquor were jumping on the popularity of this image and the conversations that ensued. Is your group, business, or leadership starting to plan an event, campaign, or taking on a new direction? Timing is everything. Start trending today!

What’s your take-away? How will you bring clever images, humor, and tools for connection to your efforts? Your energy should be focused on getting your customer’s attention. What color is the dress? Community engagement is about relating to your customer, elevating the conversation and creating meaningful connections to further their investment in your program, business or cause. Take advantage of the perfect timing to launch a new initiative or lay the groundwork and leadership for change. Pick up on the trends, cues and perks of a viral image and engage your community…now!

Photo Credit: Swiked/Tumblr

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