The CHAI Model: How To Create A Vibrant Community

A review of Denise Henkel’s approach to community growth

Recently, I came across CMX, the hub for the community industry, because CreativeMornings, a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types taking place in more than 200 cities worldwide, was nominated for the Community Industry Awards organized by CMX. I am part of the organiser’s team of CreativeMornings/Vienna and partly responsible for our (online) community management.

Community is about helping and inspiring others. (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

While browsing the CMX blog as a task in the Content Marketing & Community Management course at the Content Strategy master’s degree programme at FH JOANNEUM, I stumbled upon Denise Henkel’s article “4 Secret Ingredients for a Vibrant Community” (read it here). As we try to set up a proper community management for CreativeMornings/Vienna at the moment and our aim is to inspire our community to create, discuss and share own perspectives, I got interested in what Henkel has to tell when it comes to community growth. She elaborated on a framework by CMX, the Community Engagement Cycle, and created the CHAI model — Creativity, Helpfulness, Affirmation, Inspiration. Find the main facts about her concept and my response to it as follows.

The CHAI Model at a Glance

Creativity 💡

For Henkel, low-barrier activities that are fun, like puzzles or word games, help to engage both newcomers and experienced members. It is an easy way to get creative and it is a short way to get into discussions with other community members. At CreativeMornings, we thrive by creativity and we always try to inspire people to think and get into action.

Helpfulness 💪

Getting lost is a bad feeling — helping other people with their problems or questions makes us feeling good. As a community manager, you could the one asking for help to get people responsive. This establishes a strong bond between everyone involved in something. At CreativeMornings, we constantly ask our community for their ideas, their support and their opinions which is extremely valuable for making our activities better.

Affirmation 👍

You might know it: If you find out that someone else shares an interest, a hobby or an opinion with you, you discover similarities and identify yourself with another person. It makes you happy and might lead to support in various situations. At CreativeMornings, it would be engaging people give a contribution to make a positive change happen and get the affirmation of individuals who think alike.

Inspiration ✨

I agree to Henkel’s statement that everybody has at least one little life story to inspire others. It is about growing beyond ourselves and breaking out of habitual patterns. At CreativeMornings, it is all about sharing stories and inspire others: by giving a talk, getting to know new people, sharing ideas or participating in the organizer’s team.

It’s All About Sharing Experiences

The CHAI model makes sense as it covers four of the most relevant aspects for community management and community growth. Depending on the overall goal or character of the community, there are nuances attached to the aspects which help to determine the focus of content you should provide to your community. I look forward to learning more about community management and community growth, and especially about your take on how to create vibrant communities and how to keep them thriving.

Literature and further reading

Experience designer, aspiring content strategist, humanist, world citizen, traveller, mountain hiker, Cuba Libre aficionado, fairness advocate. www.ejochum

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