Kill Your Heroes, Build a Community: SolarWinds’ Sci-Fi Battle

13 Mar Kill Your Heroes, Build a Community: SolarWinds’ Sci-Fi Battle

In public relations and marketing, one of the biggest concerns is community, or rather how to build one.  There are so many factors to consider, from the likeability of a company’s products and the size of the user base to building brand loyalty, that community building often slips into the background for most organizations.

One client of mine, SolarWinds, a provider of IT management software, defies the status quo when it comes to community – they’ve managed to build, sustain and grow an active, vocal community of users that, in my purview at least, rivals that of some mainstream open source projects.  How do they do it?  By maintaining a deep understanding of their users, which, more often than not, are self-described geeks, both from a technical and a cultural perspective (I count myself among their number).

Now, SolarWinds has launched a month-long endeavor to help engage and grow their community…by killing its heroes.  The SolarWinds Sci-Fi Bracket Battle is a vote-driven tournament, where science fiction icons, like Star Trek’s Captain Kirk and Star Wars’ Darth Vader, face off against each other for the title of Intergalactic Champion.

One might think that the geek clique would not take kindly to their favorite characters being shunted into a Thunderdome, but that line of thinking couldn’t be more wrong.

SolarWinds’ users have leapt full force into the Bracket Battle, generating tweets, Facebook posts and message board discussions.  The community has even gone so far as to tweet the authors and actors behind these icons to try and bring them into the debate.  It’s a beautiful thing to see a community engaged, and it’s something that SolarWinds is doing very, very well.

–John Terrill

John Terrill
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