Two years ago I started to build Tervahiihto´s community, purely from the love for endurance sports and chance to work with inspiring great minds like Maija and Jani Oravamäki, who are top coaches and athletes in endurance sports. Athletes are used to setting ambitious goals and working hard to achieve them, which is really inspiring. As a long history in teaching and researching communications and knowledge management, I also wanted to do communication building and social media projects in practice, which I think all people in academia should do at some point to test the theories. So when I had a chance to help out Maija and Jani with my knowledge, I was more than happy to start building Tervahiihto tribe with them. I have had few principles, which have been the cornerstones for building Tervahiihto tribe: inspiration, trust, connecting people and staying fit (as an event and physically).
Inspiration and trust
My main aim has been inspiring Tervahiihto community to increase their confidence and to help people to connect to others. People need to have confidence to themselves, and our sponsors e.g. Lähitapiola Pohjoinen and Oulun Energia need to have confidence on us. So it really comes down to building trust within the community. Trust in Tervahiihto builds on the same shared values:
Likeminded outdoor enthusiasts often share the same lifestyle and values and they enjoy doing sports together and meeting at events. It is also common that Tervahiihto tribe loves nature and getting outdoors pushing themselves to challenge and exceed their limits.
Tervahiihto uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to have conversations with Tervahiihto tribe and to get to know potential new tribe members. CommsSquad team is behind social media marketing and communication and we operate in a private Facebook group. It is great to plan new campaigns and to test our ideas in a diverse group of people. CommsSquad is a nice blend of regular sports enthuasts and competative skiers, from which most famous are professional marathon skier Heli Heiskanen and latest Finnish Champion in 50km race Kusti Kittilä. Competative xc skier Jonne Seppänen has also been a great assett to the team. Tervahiihto needs their personal brand to attract professional skiers to the event.
On a way to Tervahiihto blog promotes our events, athletes, coaches and regular skiers to share knowledge and inspiration about endurance sports. Our annual coaching campaign has typically one well recognized athlete, who starts to train to Tervahiihto in a fall. Then we follow the progress during the winter and share the excitement of accomplishing the final Tervahiihto Race. So far we have had a change to follow hockey player Ex-Kärpät Finnish Champion Sakari Palsola, Ultra Marathon runner Sanna Kullberg and Olympic silver medalist Alpine skier Mikko Ronkainen. These sportsmen and woman are sort of brand advocates for existing community members and they promote feelings of confidence in people. Anyone can learn to ski and participate in Tervahiihto.
It is never too late to start doing endurance sports and to learn how to ski.
We have more than tripled the amount of relevant followers within 2 years and fans in our social media accounts, but what is the best is the fact that we have found the right target audience and got them to listen and participate. For example our Tervahiihto workout group was established By one of our community members and it got 130 members within first 12 hours and now when the season is almost over it has almost 200 members. Group workouts are also great for networking and making new friends. Participating in Tervahiihto coaching and group workouts lowers the limitations in participating the actual race. We encourage people to push themselves and to exceed their limits.
Speaking directly with the community members is important and it is possible via social media channels in groups, email, on the phone, or in person in various kinds of f2f events. We always ask for feedback from the events and see analytics from the social media and from our blog. It is important to see what works and what does not. Building relationships within the Tervahiihto community happens in following f2f forums:
Through these events we create value for members who participate in the community, they get inspiration from the best, new knowledge, friends and coaching. Above all it is great to exceed your limits with the support of the community. We have created a community where people feel that they belong. In this video “Kimppalenkki” is from one of our group workouts:
In order to keep up with the development and to improve the event, Tervahiihto is building the listening practices. Monitoring competition and sports trends is important and it is also important to determine what events abroad are succeeding, and how they are doing it, and how this information can improve your Tervahiihto community.
By incorporating growth, engagement, listening, and continuous improvement, a strong Tervahiihto tribe will have human voice and continues to stay as a community that lasts. It doesn´t matter what the field is, whether it is an industry or a non-profit organization, the principles of community management are the same:
Plan f2f and virtual interaction and events smartly, do what you have planned, measure and monitor the impact and collect feedback, learn and improve.
It is the same for everyone and all communities. Only the people, content and tools vary. Let me know if you are interested in co-operation!
Welcome to Oulu and to Tervahiihto!