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The pop-up community phenomenon

iStock_000006184805XSmall.jpgWhile the goal of most marketers in social media is to build long-term communities, the enabling technologies have made pop-up communities a powerful force. Pop-up communities happen spontaneously in most cases and grow through the viral nature of social media hooks. They use social nets, blogs, tagging, video, IM, etc. to grow organically until they reach critical mass to catapult forward.

The Obama sign watch: An individual in Portland, Oregon had their Obama sign stolen from their yard twice. They decided to live stream the sign and invited people to come and watch the feed (you can see it below). At any given moment you can find hundreds of people watching and chatting on the UStream channel.

Social objects: Pop-up communities happen on a small scale around social objects. This can be seen most clearly in You Tube videos that get a large viewership, drive comments, start conversations and grow through social media outlets.

Obama girl has over 10 million views and nearly 53,000 comments. It his the mainstream media and became the topic of many conversations.

Even Charlie had his day with 55+ million views and nearly 85,000 text comments and 180 video comments. The clip has been embedded, shared and otherwise passed along millions of times.

Presidential candidate sites: Before this election cycle, the current presidential candidates had little of their expansive social media platforms in place. It makes you wonder what will happen when the election is over. What I have seen before is that they become a ghost town. I am hopeful that each candidate, regardless of the outcome, will continue to engage their supporters for the long haul.

Sporting events: Major sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup are examples of pop-up communities. They appear a few months before and disappear once the events are complete. The next time an event happens, they start from scratch.

If you visit the Olympics site today (located here) you will notice that is seems abandoned, and it is. That is the nature of the pop-up community. The other end of the timeline can be seen on the 2010 World Cup site that is ramping up for their time in the sun.

Long term transformation
The question for marketers is how to transform a pop-up community into a long-term community. The answer to the question comes down to the intent of the individual. If there is a long-term interest and passion from the person or people at the center of these communities they can survive. The topic will have to evolve to maintain relevance and keep adding value, but it is entirely possible.

The question for marketers is how to transform a pop-up community into a long-term community.

Marketers need to be aware of this phenomenon and learn that, like all new marketing, they are not in control. Smart marketers are learning how to cultivate these communities, add value in a smart way and maintain relationships over the long term.

What pop-up communities have you seen or been involved in? How did it start and what happened to it?


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