The Social Traveler on Community Building: “People Want to Truly be Part of Something”

By: Sofie De Beule

April 10, 2014

Last week, The Social Traveler (a.k.a. Bjorn Troch) paid a visit to our Engagor office in Gent, Belgium. Four years ago he decided to combine all of his passions (people, travel, and social media) and leave Belgium for a greater mission: to act as a “social evangelist” and bring social around the world. Whether you’re a company, country, or brand, everyone is able to participate in The Social Traveler’s adventures and become part of his engaging community.

His random acts (nothing is planned in advance) on his journey to build and engage his community have brought him to places like New Zealand for a hitch-hiking trip, a charity tandem challenge from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong, and a staying-sober-for-40-days challenge in Australia. And that’s all because his community challenged him to!

The Social Traveler’s Next Challenge: Gibson’s “Learn to Play the Guitar”

These days, you can claim time with The Social Traveler during his learning-how-to-play-the-guitar endeavor for the Gibson guitar brand challenge. In the coming 3 months, he will hop on a musical journey across Europe and North America. During his stop in Gent, one of our colleagues had the honor to teach him some new chords.

We didn’t just stick to just music though, we also talked a lot about the difficulties of community building and the power of social media for valuable engagement. He constantly stressed how his community means everything to him. Unfortunately, a lot of brands approach him and emphasize how reach and boosting engagement on social media is becoming increasingly difficult.

His audience grew very organically. “I never, ever spent a dime on social advertising. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at TEDx Hasselt and gathered 247 likes with my Facebook update. Maybe the number doesn’t blow your mind but consider the fact I “only” have a modest 2,500 fans. I think that says a lot in terms of engagement, and many brands can only dream of it.”

Some of my social updates gather more than 200 likes and are real conversation-starters. That number might not blow your mind. But if I tell you I “only” have a modest 2,500 fans, and my community grew entirely organically, it changes the picture completely.

Brands Should Step Out of Their Comfort Zone

When it comes to social media, according to The Social Traveler, brands should – more than ever – think outside of the box. He believes Red Bull is a great example of a leading risk-taking brand. Even small brands shouldn’t fear stepping out of their comfort zone.

He gave us some insightful tips on how brands can leverage social media more insightfully for their overall business strategy.

  •  Always Think Long Term

The only way to be of value to your audience and build genuine relationships is to adopt a long-term mindset. The more brands develop a strategy for the future, the more it will reinforce their actions. Although brands need to live very much in the “now” (hence real-time engagement), they also have to know what their next moves will be. Although The Social Traveler’s acts happen very spontaneously, he’s constantly thinking about “the way forward”. Making a living out of social means you always have to think ahead.

  •  Bring the Offline and Online Worlds Together

Although social media offers endless possibilities, Bjorn believes the true value lies in seamlessly integrating online into the offline world. “It’s amazing how much response and opportunities I was able to gain out of my offline meetups. Social media is such a great place to connect with like-minded people, however, the human side of the story and the power of one-to-one contact shouldn’t ever be neglected.”

According to The Social Traveler, brands should focus on showing off their human side. “People don’t want to engage with companies if they haven’t a clue who the people are behind that company. Don’t hesitate to include your employees in your social updates. Organize meetups from time to time on particular subjects that are useful for your community. It all comes down to this: don’t loose track of the real world. You’d be surprised by how many people want to be part of something.”

Social media is about making human connections. But don’t forget to take these valuable connections into the offline world too. You’d be surprised how many people actually want to be part of something.

Want to learn more on The Social Traveler’s mission and challenges? You can always catch him here, on Facebook, or on Twitter!