Maya sank further back into the soft leather couch, looked up from her laptop and smiled to herself. The young girl chatting with her college friends at the next table threw her a puzzled look, then smiled back at her.
“This is why I started the Facebook Fan Group for the Green Park Costa,” Maya typed out as she felt her smile grow bigger, “I smile more when I am here.” Then, she added a smiley for effect, along with the link to the Facebook Group and pressed “enter” on Tweekdeck.
Earlier in the day, the deaf and dumb barista had given her a thumbs up as she entered the cafe: “The usual?” She had raised her thumb in response: “Yes, the usual. Thank you.” The usual being a bottle of Aquafina mineral water and a small Americano. Then, he had handed her an additional half-full bottle of water, the one she had left behind the previous night.
It was this unexpected act of thoughtfulness that had prompted her to create the Facebook Group:
After I spent an entire weekend at Green Park Costa, I decided to start this group as a social experiment to connect people who spend far too much time at the cafe. If you love the Green Park Costa, join the group, and say hello.
But Maya was acting on more than an impulse. She was hoping that the Facebook Group will help her answer a question she had struggled with for several months: can online communities connect neighborhoods in the same ways local cafes can?
While experiments like Outside.in, Topix, Placeblogger, i-Neighbors, Front Porch Forum were working hard to blur the boundaries between online and offline communities 1, the cafe metaphor was the key to the question, in Maya’s mind.
Strangely, nobody else had done much with that metaphor. Starbucks V2V was the only online community she could think of that tried to connect neighborhoods with the local cafe as the pivot, but it was focused on volunteer opportunities, not connecting people.
There is probably no better way to probe into the problem than creating an online community for her favorite local cafe, she had told herself, and clicked on the Create a Group button on Facebook.
Minutes later, Maya almost jumped with joy: the Green Park Costa Facebook Group already had six members!
PS: Maya is a social experiment, just like the Green Park Costa Facebook Group I created last week.
As CEO of 2020 Social, I build and nurture online communities for Indian and international clients, connect their customers, partners and employees, and help them achieve their business objectives. Ask us how we can help you.
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