Charming. Not as in prince, as in the town. Charming is the fictional home to a community of outlaw bikers known as The Sons of Anarchy. Sons of Anarchy is the highest rated show on FX, it’s cult in it’s niche and has been renewed for it’s 4th season which starts in September 2011.
By observing these fictional biker outlaws we can learn some powerful ways to build a strong blogging community and manage our multi author blogs far more effectively.
Blogging community – Sons of Anarchy style
Be like Jackson “Jax” Teller
Share your blogging thoughts and find your voice within your community. Yes, one day he will be the boss, that’s what succession planning is all about but he’ll have his own style. Jax is the confused protagonist in Sons of Anarchy. He gains empathy through his learning, through his journey and through his interactions. He’s a blend of motorcycle club community values in modern times. Newer Motorcycle club fans adore him, they understand his position. They see the clothes he wears and they feel comfortable.
Old timers see Jax and they see the future, they see the custom Harley Davison and they feel secure. In your blogging community blend the future with traditional so all your readers feel secure.
Be like Clarence “Clay” Morrow
Lead your community by example. Take the tough decisions and call a vote if needed. Your community will help you make tough decisions, you don’t carry the burden on your own. Clay works hard, rides hard and of course plays hard. He leads the Sons of Anarchy, California Redwood Original AKA SAMCRO towards his vision. He wants money. He wants power, and he wants Charming drug free. His community management reflects his goals.
He is relentless when it comes to achieving his goals. He’s focused, he is determined, he gets what he wants. He collaborates with gangs stronger than him, patches over smaller motorcycle clubs; He is the king of joint ventures. When it comes to negotiation he is keen to focus on the win/win/win scenario so everyone leaves the table with something.
Learn from Clay’s mistakes – nobody’s perfect and Clays fatal flaw is his ability to stick with a decision once it is made. It meant that he ordered the killing of the wife of one of his Samcro brothers. This could kill his reputation with all the other motorcycle gangs if they found out. Trust would never be recovered: He would lose everything.
Clay leads through strength and force. One day that strength will be gone. In true Hamlet style Jax tells Clay “It’s not easy being king” and Clay reminds him with “ You remember that”.
When it comes to your blog’s community you can learn a lot from the leadership skills demonstrated by Clay Morrow and his weak spot.
Be like Gemma Teller
Listen and be covert in your interventions when the situation requires it. Yes, your multi author blog should have a matriarch. Someone who outwardly cares and protects the community, it’s interests and it’s products. Gemma said her purpose is to be a “fierce mother” and she does that superbly. Gemma is the tweaker and tester in the community.
She’s always testing, testing, testing. She knows the weaks spots because she is always listening to what the community has to say and she highlights this to Clay. Their communication is fluid and together they work through issues in the community.
Gemma’s weakness is she can be seen as interfering , bossy and manipulative. If your blog’s community think the same of your matriarch you will have to find a way to deal with it. It may not be easy to protect her and she is fully capable of protecting herself. It just makes a mess in the community and a skateboard in the face takes time to recover from! Don’t try this at home folks, I think it only works on TV…
Jax’s transition to motorcycle club leader may not be entirely painless but it won’t be the bloodbath it would be under Clay. A war in your blogging community is not a pleasant scenario. If you have to change leadership do so with minimum fuss. Remember Jax has a foot in a niche and a foot in the mainstream, he has to be strong to carry it off. Ultimately he’ll have to choose: the niche or the mainstream. Whilst he’s deciding, he’s vulnerable. Be prepared for your blog going mainstream and your community not being as happy with that as you may be.
Give your fans nicknames, and badges that they can wear. ‘Croweaters’ are the groupies hanging around the club, ‘old ladies’ are long-term girlfriends and wives, ‘prospects’ are guys proving themselves to become members. Over at Birds on the Blog, the bloggers are known as Birds. The girls we support are “our girls”. Havi Brooks over at the Fluent Self has her own language, that her community know and understand. You know your blog community is strong when they want to tell people about it, give themselves nicknames and start their own language. You blog develops a culture.
What not to do in your community Sons of Anarchy style…
- Avoid the law
- Introduce porn to your community
- Kill your critics
- Take a blowtorch to someone with your logo
The Motorcycle Club have their own laws and they “own” the police in Charming. Things get overlooked and remain uninvestigated. That will not happen in an online blogging community. Be respectful of the rules or you will be fined and potentially prosecuted. Don’t liable people, check the facts and back them up throughout your post when posting something controversial. Take care to protect yourself and your blog. Remember not all patchovers go well so be prepared.
Community can resist change; when Jax introduced porn to his community not all the members were happy. Be careful what you inflict upon your membership, they may not be totally enthralled by the changes and go elsewhere. Not everyone in your community will want a seismic cultural shift and it can destabilise all you have worked for. Look after them and cherish them and they will be happy to share their thoughts on impending changes. This will allow you to reassure them or take on board what they are saying. There is no AK-47 in the blogging world to back you up.
The Sons of Anarchy take their branding seriously, you leave their club you have the club tattoo removed. When ejected member Kyle Hobart doesn’t remove his tattoo the Sons of Anarchy do it for him. With a blowtorch. Take your branding and image seriously but not to the point of inflicting physical pain. Unauthorised use of your logo can usually be removed with a letter from your lawyer.
However angry you may feel, no matter how tempting… you cannot kill your critics and then bury them in the desert.
You can defend yourself but in all honesty, you will live if you walk away. The Sons of Anarchy may not live if they don’t silence their critics. Their critics come in the form of rival gangs, law enforcement agencies and their own community. Your critics will be your family, outsiders who want to be part of your community (but don’t know how) and other bloggers. The more successful your blogging community becomes, the more vocal your critics will be .
Outlaw biker may not be the model you were thinking of for your blog’s community but it’s one that works and works well.
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