Building and Choosing Communities Based on “Science”

The second edition of reading Sean Young PhD’s book on how to change our habits and others is with COMMUNITIES . Discussed earlier in the first edition of changing habits, the way is with  STUDY , I discuss about making stages along with his research . Not much different this time I will also describe some research findings about this community.

Why community?

A tragedy occurred in 1978 in Jonestown Guyana. Jonestown is a new city where a particular sect or school fled. They built the new city with all the systems adapted to the rules of their sect. In November 1978, the head of this sect asked his members to commit suicide by drinking a poison. As a result, 909 people died including children. Not much different, a few years ago there was news about the NII who brainwash the pemuda-pemuda Indonesia. Not only change the habit, the community is even able to change our thinking and our way of thinking. For Muslims, choosing friends is important. Prophet Muhammad’s Muslims motivate us to choose good friendsbecause our friend  will reflect who we are . How can we enter the group and obey what is in the group?

Community Characteristics

In his book, Sean Young writes six characteristics for a community to be influential.

First, Need Trust . Inter members must trust each other. This mutual trust is formed when members exchange ideas, share their experiences or problems or other small things like what they do today. As the members trust each other, they will be more open-minded, easier to learn and easier to change or change.

Secondly, Need Match . Match is not limited to place but rather to match principle.

Third, it needs to be profitable . The advantages here are not material-oriented, but also non-material benefits such as the conditions in which they feel proud of their skills or self. In the group they do not feel as isolated.

Fourth, Social Magnet Needs . A social magnet is a state where members can support each other. When one member feels tired or wants to quit, the other members will give encouragement or help so that members who almost give up are motivated. Inter members are like magnets that if one is going out will the other give a pull.

Fifth, Need to Be Appreciated . Everyone wants to appreciate even without knowing as in the previous language about the need for stages and dopamine hormones. We will go into more detail later. Insha Allah.

Sixth, Need to Feel Valuable . The point is they not only feel encouraged or proud of their own skills but they need to feel that they have control over themselves. They feel that they are the ones who determine everything about themselves.

Need Role Model

Once we know the six characteristics in a community, then I proceed with how to build it. Sean Young, builds a community of people who are prone to HIV from men related to Latin American men. To build an HIV community alone there are some obstacles at least how to recruit members because most of them are more secretive about their condition let alone men deal with men among Latin Americans famous for their masculinity. This research begins by recruiting what is called a “role model”.

Usually, when the new join, new members will be silent and look around the conditions around them, then the role model is what gives example and enliven the group first. If in a group there are five members, then all must be active and become role models for other members. If the group has many members then the role model must be at least 15 percent of the number of members. This model’s Role will create a Social Magnet. Role model that will be the driving machine when the new group was first established. After new members become accustomed and comfortable with the group, they will become role models without them knowing it. And so on until later the group will run automatically.

The community is scientifically capable of changing habits. photo: SeunOgunmola

The first stage of building a community

After understanding some of the above criteria and how science about the community, the first stage is no less important to build a community is we must know what kind of community to build. If you want to build a community to help mothers eliminate their daily stress, we need to define what causes them stress? Is it because of work? Single parent? What do they often complain about? Should we know what they need? What do they think and want? How do they socialize and how do they calm down? We must know and recognize the characteristics of our target. Once we get to know them, we just go to the next stage, choose the role model.

How to choose role model?

After knowing our target, we can choose about what kind of person they think is ideal. In the above case suppose a successful housewife in a career either career work or career activities outside the home and also successful in marriage. They are what we recruit to be role models. In his book, Sean Young writes that there are 4 criteria that can be used as role models.

First Type Expert . They can be like lecturers, doctors, lawyers or researchers.

Second Type of Celebrity . They do not have to be top artists like Oki Setiana Dewi. But it could also be the programs or the youtubers.

Third Type Message Introduction . They are busy people, have lots of friends, are relaxed and accepted by all factions. They can spread our group to others. They are not usually associated with a particular group in depth.

Four Role Model Independent Model . In case we do not have or find the person mentioned above, then we can make a small group, let’s say the new housewives group then we find which of them are the most enthusiastic, the most easy to socialize and the most excited with the community that we form. They will be happy to do what we want.

Next give a role model guide that aims to facilitate them into role models. It makes them feel valuable and gives clues to how they play. For celebrities or experts who do not have the time, we can ask them to send tweets or sharing about the community once a week. For independent model role models we can ask them to send tweets or sharing several times a week and give them the smallest reward or appreciation even if it’s just a thank you. After the inter-role models discuss and share each other, meaning the environment or where we are ready to receive new members.

How is the community in the business world?

In the business world, as we know, the community has a significant role. Some cases are how Femina magazines remain successful despite being bombarded by online media . Another interesting case is from Matei Zaharia , an internship engineer from google who works in big data analysis using Hadoop Map Reduce method. Once out of google, Matei founded Spark, one method of settlement big data. The problem is, nobody knows who it is Matei or Spark.

After reflection, Matei discovers the first two problems, though Spark is better than Hadoop, no one will know the strength before they try. Secondly, he knows that stereotype engineers are not able to socialize but not because they can not socialize. It’s just that they have “criteria” and “unique” characters in socializing. Matei knows that engineers also need community then he started building a community that helps people how to use Spark. He invited engineers in meetings, graduate students. Matei builds a community that has a social magnet by making inter-members connected to each other engineer. People started talking about Spark and Spark users quickly became pioneers.

Business community in online media

Another case is between FB Sam Adams and Dos Equis fanpage accounts . Samuel Adams has a number of like about 1 million fewer than Dos Equis which reached 4 million. If seen then, the ads on Sam Adams fanpage are regular and boring advertisements about beer. In contrast to Dos Equis with its ispirative ads. This factor may be the reason why Dos Equis has more like. With its marketing strategy, Dos Equis became a byword in social media. However, the two products turned out to have a unique community respectively. Although the social media community of Dos Equis is bigger but Sam Adams community is stronger.

The comments on Sam Adams contained about how beer tastes, the experience of drinking beer and something related to Sam Adams or beer. But in Dos Equis they commented on the advertisements being presented. The Sam Adams community exists because they love beer while the Dos Equis community is there because they are interested in the ads. When Sam Adams’s fans commented to each other, they felt each other’s fit.

What Community?

After reading the above description, then, what community do you want to enter or wake up to change yourself or others?
Wait for the third edition inshaAllah next week.


  1. Charles Duhigg . 2014.  The Power of Habit
  2. Sean Young 2017. Stick with it
  3. Young, et al, 2015, The Lancet HIV 2 (1), e27-232
  4. Young, et al, 2014,  American Journal of Public Health  104 (9), 1707-1712

Abdul Halim
Doctoral Student at University of Tsukuba. Lecturer at Bandung Institute of Technology Science
Founder Warung Sains Technology.

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