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Communities are the future: They create innovation, enable participation and increase engagement.


“Good community management has an effect right through to product development and can thus drive innovations. Companies and organizations need a close relationship at eye level with their target group in order to exist in the long term and to develop further. "
Communities

Arne Klauke heads the at matrix "Communication Consulting, Media Creation & Community" area and contributes to the company's strategic direction as a member of the management team. In the past year, he was mainly involved in merging web and community development and led the creation of a Community Platform for zdi.NRW. Arne is married, has a young daughter and is socially committed in his adopted home in the Lower Rhine region of Meerbusch. ACTIVATING is one of his great strengths. So bringing people together, motivating, networking and inspiring people: for many years he has been building bridges and breaking down inhibitions and making participation in the digital space as easy as possible for different actors.

Hello Arne, you are responsible for community building at matrix. What is it that fascinates you so much about communities?

Digital solutions can fundamentally make our lives easier, break down boundaries, enable participation and create innovations. Well done, they are sometimes simply fun, for example through social interaction - a basic need of all people that we are good at Communities be able to take up: How cool is it that I can easily exchange ideas with old school friends on the Internet or in a group in which people with the same interests can get to know each other. They have made a similar journey and often understand each other in just a few words. Or let's take large communities like chefkoch.de or thingiverse.de. The two communities might not even refer to themselves as such. Nevertheless, people exchange their experiences here, feel connected in parts of their identity and in this specific case they also have a common structure on which they operate: a digital marketplace.

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The MINT community for the zdi project, for which you were jointly responsible, recently started. What does this project want to achieve?

The MINT community NRW we arouse curiosity for science and technology and bring people together. In this way we create reach for MINT (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology) and the young people grow with the tasks and experience real-life MINT knowledge.

What does it mean exactly?

MINT networks post their offers on the zdi community platform and exchange ideas with one another. Young people find courses and other offers and can register for them, but also, as with Insta & Co., network with one another. For their commitment on the platform, they collect points in the form of badges or micro degrees, which are compiled in a MINT résumé.

How did you go about developing this community?

Iterative and participatory, because our experience at matrix shows that a community works best when users are involved from the start. We designed the prototype of the platform with some of the zdi networks. We have tried and tested and efficient processes for how we integrate these users. For example BarCamps. Hackathons or persona workshops. After a test phase, we continued to develop and now we are activating the large zdi community to take part in the next stage of development.

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Do you have examples from projects that help to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

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Participative meetings with Kanban board

At matrix, where possible, we use co-creative or participatory methods to create a high level of acceptance in the target group - with varying degrees of participation. The most important thing is to involve the right people in the process: professionals, initiators and users. The disadvantage is that the processes sometimes take a little longer. Empathetic and professional management of these participation processes is critical to success: community management. Let's take an example from the MINT area: In the zdi project, we imparted the necessary skills in YouTube workshops to produce a video and offered young people the platform to place their videos prominently.

The young people choose the topics and the form of presentation themselves and thus create a high level of acceptance because they are part of the target group. The videos that were created here have tens of thousands of clicks and convey MINT relationships really well told and presented. We were able to introduce some of them in an extra "Science Video Award" distinguish.

What potential do you think there is in communities? Why should organization and company deal with it?

Community management will play a much more important role in the future because it helps to retain customers and interest groups over the long term. Even in times of crisis, communities can:

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  • Create acceptance and reach,
  • Generate word of mouth and loyalty,
  • help with market research,
  • Create user-generated content, for example reviews or product videos from the community,
  • and stimulate innovation processes and idea management.

It is important that Community management is not misunderstood as mere customer contact. Good community management means meeting the target group at eye level and has to influence every area of ​​an organizational structure, an important cross-sectional task. This is how communities can drive innovation. Communities are supported by a few particularly active people. These are often volunteers or those who like to walk the extra mile professionally. You have to meet them at eye level, activate them and give them special support.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I particularly enjoy the fact that I keep coming across touching and fascinating stories in my work. Stories get stuck. That's human.

We tell them on. Whether, like back then, around the campfire or viral today on social media. This content is our cultural heritage and memory. As a digital solution, the community platform, like the marketplace, is the center of the community. Everyone comes together here. Democracy is lived here. Trade is carried out here. Demonstrations take place here. Here people exchange unimportant, but also vital information. But how does the fruit seller have to design his stand in order to be noticed? Do we have to produce videos? Is a podcast the right medium? For example, what do the climate activists have to do in order to get enough supporters and how can the mayor candidates create participation? Is a broad campaign the right choice? What functions does the marketplace have to have to make this possible? Or does a hybrid event make sense?

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We ask ourselves all these questions at matrix and provide holistic support, from the Advice through to implementation. My main concern is to develop communities and activate people to participate. This is how we create living solutions that work sustainably. The (digital) platform, whether classic event, social media or your own platform, is a means to an end. 

You're a real social media junky. What do you find fascinating about it?

It is my vision that I contribute with my profession and passion to bring more people into focus who deserve it. The topics of digital and cross-generational participation, animal welfare and democracy are particularly important to me. With my work I would like to contribute to creating reach for these topics - for this I would like to generate awareness on, for example, social media channels, build marketplaces and activate communities. And so it is only natural for me to use my strengths cross-media in order to support people in their work.

Thank you for the interview, Arne.