• Oana Filip

GUEST POST: Communities get stronger one story at a time

I am very thrilled to present you "Co-create LAB", a series of guest blog posts on my website where talented entrepreneurs from Switzerland and beyond will share their expertise with us on LinkedIn, personal branding, web design, digital marketing, creative writing, and, of course, community-building.

Today let me introduce you, Oana Filip, Chief People Officer at Pixelgrade, my dear community-building buddy and a role model for me because I am always looking for inspiring doers that are changing the world with the magic of stories.

Photo by Katerina Nedelcu

Communities get stronger one story at a time

Storytelling is the fastest and most authentic language within a tribe. Through stories, we share our values, reveal our ambitions, gather people, create connections, and convey emotions. Stories are the invisible thread that keeps members together and consolidates the tribe.

If I were to ask community builders around the world about their glue, I would most probably receive a wide range of answers. From users at the forefront of a health product, be it digital or non-digital, to cyclists who travel the world together and share experiences that make their bonds stronger.

However, there are not too many attempts that explore the underlining powers of stories. On the one hand, storytelling is often a tool used in communities of interest (tribes nurtured around a set of values and beliefs). On the other hand, it's tough to measure the impact of narratives across a community, and often, results take more time.

How do they help us achieve a specific goal? Aren't they too loose for the mission of this tribe? How do you know people relate to those particular narratives?

These are only a few questions that I slept on over and over again. As a gal with ten years of community-building experience, I've noticed nuances that the speech around tribes gets from one year to the other. If a decade ago, the core message was that you should capitalize on the community to hit specific metrics in sales, things changed tremendously in 2020, a year that's hard to forget.

Even though we're still too close to the phenomenon, meaning that we're zoomed in, there's crystal clear that communities come in many shapes and forms. This diversity brings plenty of opportunities, a lot of confusion, and the risk of falling flat if there's no profound understanding of the ecosystem. That's why, today more than ever, we need to learn how to use stories as a two-way street.

We're still in the early days of creating a proper tribe at Pixelgrade, but what we've accomplished with Upstairs Community is fantastic and promising at the same time.

Our mission at Pixelgrade is to support people who want to make an impact in their communities. We reach it through various endeavors. We create digital products to help people express their thoughts and showcase their creative work. We give back to the WordPress world.

And we nurture a growing tribe around stories that make us better human beings.

The Upstairs Community is one of such attempts. It kicked off from our desire to stay away from clickbait and news as we know it and offer an authentic alternative through stories. We believe far more in such an approach as being sustainable and rewarding in the long haul. It gets us closer to reach our mission, too.

We're often asked who is this community for? The answer is naive yet powerful: it is for everyone who believes in the power of vulnerable stories to heal, help, inspire, change, connects, empowers, drives.

Without further ado, twice a month, on a Sunday, our members receive such a story written by people worldwide, regardless of their interests, professions, hobbies, cultural backgrounds, and preferences of any kind.

My teammates at Pixelgrade designed an experience that reinforces Upstairs Community's values (slowing down, transparency, and authenticity). Protecting this core was something that we cared about and talked about from the early beginning. It also gives us a lot of clarity regarding how we want to continue nourishing this tribe.

With every story we tell, we make room for a new voice to get heard. With every new voice, we narrow the gap and eliminate divisions. With better bonds and a together-feeling, we expand our acceptance and kindness.

Stories aren't a magic ingredient that we pour on top. They are a powerful way of experiencing reality.

And that, my friend, worths all the work and the waiting.

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