Why Creating a Community Can Strengthen Your Work
While many communicators are aware that we write and create for our audiences, we rarely think about the steps we can take with our audience. Huatong Sun’s article Innovating with Fans: Social Games and Technology Design shines light on working with our audience to create a community that can foster innovation. One of the big examples that Sun uses is the popular AR mobile game Pokemon Go. This app’s roots are found in an April Fool’s Day joke created by Google that was made real by the reaction it got from its audience. What started out as a little game finding pokemon on Google Maps like a game of I Spy launched an app that took over the world. Judging the reaction that you receive from your audience is a great way to see which avenues you should take next. By making it known that you are taking their opinions into consideration, this builds a relationship between you and your audience. This relationship is an important aspect when it comes to word of mouth marketing. If treasured, the audience will be more likely to talk about your work to friends, family, and colleagues.
Building a community through sharing your work with your audience also allows the opportunity to build upon your ideas and branch out to other subjects. This can broaden your portfolio and create new relationships that you may not have been able to make otherwise. This networking then builds your community even larger, bringing with it more opportunities.
With every good aspect comes a negative one. The major negative issue that may arise comes from the community itself. When your community becomes familiar with certain aspects about your work, any sort of change can come with backlash. This could stem from the creator switching subjects, sharing an opinion that may not align with their audience, or even changing something simple as formatting. Sun creates a great example of this using K-pop group Super Junior. The pop group is well known for taking their audience’s opinions into consideration and deciding whether or not to use it. This has created some major backlash with fans when there are major changes to the group’s concepts or music styling of a new album. When this occurs, it is important to take your fans’ criticism into consideration. This will feed the relationship between the two parties and help the spread of your work and help boost your reputation through channels like word of mouth and the all powerful social media.
Huatong Sun’s article shows the importance of inviting your audience into your scholarly world in order to network, build upon ideas, and get the word about your work out to the world. Even if it is not their field, you can still have a large impact just like with Line Friends, a mobile app with cute character mascots, and their following in China. Even though Line is not currently available to use in the country, Line Friends has done a great job keeping up with their audience there through advertising, pop up events, and merchandise to keep their fandom strong.
What isn’t touched upon in the article but goes hand in hand is remembering that the academic world is not one of isolation. It is easy to fall down rabbit holes and sequester yourself away until you emerge from your cave to present your new thesis. By building and nurturing a community, you can broaden your horizons and communicate with audiences around the world. With all that can be gained by reaching out to your audience, why not build your own community and see what new heights you can reach!
Innovating with Fans: Social Games and Technology Design, Huatong Sun
Viewpoint Written by Mariah Clem, Texas State University
Edited by Talia Chavez, Texas State University