Build an online special community around your service

Connect your members with a community who can help them with their challenges and where you as an organization can do what you do best with the activities and support you provide.

Let start with the basis. What is an online special community, and why your organization should have one?

A community is a group of people sharing a common interest.



An online community is a group of people sharing a common interest who use virtual platforms to communicate and pursue their interest.



An online special community is a group of special people with learning, developmental and intellectual disabilities sharing a common interest who use a virtual platform designed special to them to communicate and pursue their interest. 



 
But why should you as an organization build an online special community? 



The short answer is: To connect directly with your audience and population, so you can reach and support them better.



Building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audience. Furthermore, a well-run online community will also help you build member trust.



And one major benefit of building an online community is that it can significantly increase customer retention and engagement.



Connect your members with a community who can help them with their challenges and where you as an organization can do what you do best with the activities and support you provide.

Let me give you an example

Let’s say that you provide horseback riding or horse therapy for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

You want to spread awareness about what you do, how you do it and why you are good at it. You know you are making a positive difference to those who come to you and you know they benefit greatly from it.

But maybe you have a hard time communicating with your audience and maybe you have a hard time getting more customers. And with Covid-19 hitting us all the job has just gotten much harder.

Can you do relate?

Right now, there is a chance that you right now thinking "I can’t do any with horseback riding online!”

But right now, there is a chance that you right now thinking “I can’t do any with horseback riding online!”

I think you can – and in this time with the pandemic which has made our world so different, going online will help you and your customers so much.

And my goal is to get your help and support out to those who need it the most. Our common special audience.

Online you could teach:
  • How to groom a horse
  • How to approach a horse
  • How to give a horse treat
  • Why a helmet is required
  • What clothes it is good to wear
Online you could tell:
  • The story of each horse, their name, favorite feed, their special traits, etc.
  • Why and how to do horse riding and therapy
  • Who do you have as customers?
  • All the practical things (parking, price, toilet facilities, with or without helper …)
Online you could show:
  • A ride filmed with the rider’s eyes (camera on the helmet) so the spectator gets the experience from the right angle and in the right pace
  • Where does it all take place? How does it look
  • Your staff
  • Who you are?
  • What happens the first time you go horseback riding

And the list could go on and on.

When we open, We are Friends – in two month time – you can have your own community of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who looooooove horses and need your knowledge and your service.

So, let’s go horseback riding – in real life and in the online life. I know you can do it, and I know that the benefit of going online with your service will give you a much bigger audience, give you a much bigger impact and give you more awareness to your business and service and that will lead to more customers coming in.

Dreaming on having your own special community?

Do you think that an online special community would be a match for your organization, service or business? Send me an e-mail at signe@wearefriends.today, and let’s brainstorm on how we can get you started the best way in your (new) online adventure.

I’m here to help.

You can’t be social online if you can’t talk

We launched our beta-version of the friendship app in Denmark summer last year. It really was a beta-version. 

The users could talk with each other by pictures, audio and video messages. They could post on their profile page and they could find new friends based on interests. And that was pretty much it.

But it worked! And the users were very active finding new friends, communicate and posting pictures from their everyday life on their profile page.

During that time we were out presenting the app in many different places; festivals, sports events, activity days, schools and much more.

One day a mother and her son came up to talk to me. The place where the son was living, there were some, how already have joined the app, and she was curious about how the app worked.

I asked if her son should join too. “No” she said and continued “he can’t read and write, and he can’t talk very much so he can’t be social in an app””.

And that is the whole point of the app. Giving a space where you can be social, find new friends how share the same interest as you and communicate with them in a form that suits you – no matter how good or bad you read or write.

We ended up getting her son in the app. She told me, that he was a huge fan of cruise ships. And we made a video with him to his profile-page, where he was smiling and wavering to his new friends.

I sent out a message to all our superusers (superusers are our brand ambassadors who welcome the new users in the app, help them if needed and they also have a moderator role, so they also are one of our safety measures), telling them that this new user really enjoyed  cruise ships, and if they saw any, sent one his way.

And they did. And when they did, they got a video back from him smiling or laughing while making his “happy sound”.

And they did. And when they did, they got a video back from him smiling or laughing while making his “happy sound”.

After a few months I meet his mother again. She told that her son has changed. Changed to a so happier young man. That he was grown so much because he now has friends he has got on his own. Friends that where thinking of him when they saw a cruise ship and took their time to take a picture and sent it to him.

She also told me that he was practiced diligently to be able to say “Thank you” in a way that you as receiver could understand and that he enthusiastically showed her his new friends and the pictures and videos he got them.

For you and me, it may not be great communication. But for this young man, it has meant a world of difference.

And that’s what we’re working on with the friendship app »We are Friends«. Day after day. Giving a voice to those who do not have one, so that they can find new friends to talk to – even if the talk is not in the same way as you and me talking.

Launching in spring 2021

The »We are Friends« App is expected to be launched for IOS and Android in early summer 2021. The App is currently in development.

We want to give this special audience a voice. We want to give them their life and hope back, to make friends and become less lonely so they have a safe place to go during this crazy pandemic and beyond.

It all started that day …

It all started that day …

I met Peter.

Peter is developmentally disabled. He lives together with 30 others who also have a developmental disability.

I was so lucky to be invited to visit Peter in his new apartment. When I walked in, it was like I stepped into a big dream of fishing. All the walls were covered with posters of fish,fishing and fishing gear and there were piles of books and magazines all about fish and fishing.

 

Peter told me that he watched all the shows about fishing on TV and that he dreamt of standing on a fishing boat pulling one big fish out of the sea after another.

“I look at all the pictures in my books and magazines and then I dream,” he said and struck out with his arms against the stack of books and continued “I can’t read many words, but I can spell cod”.

 

I asked Peter how often he was on a fishing trip. He answered that he had never been on a fishing boat but that he had been to a lake 4 times.

 

Peter is 40 years old and does not have many friends, and those that he has are not in the least bit interested in fishing. Peter’s best friend is his contact educator. And they have tried to get Peter in some online groups about fishing, but because Peter needs help to read and write. He is dependent on the contact educator to keep the online communication going. But often, there is no time to help Peter with his reading and writing. Communication dies out quickly and Peter is once again without a community around his greatest interest.

 

Peter’s story hurt my heart. The idea of being completely alone and not having someone to share what you are most passionate about, what you dream so strongly about, was almost unbearable.

 

I thought to myself, “We have to do something, so that Peter can go fishing!”

And right there in Peter’s apartment, the idea for the friendship app came up.

Here, Peter could be able to meet others with the same great interest in fishing. It could be in his local area, or it could be from other places in the country. They should communicate with video and audio messages and Peter could also have the opportunity to find out what’s going on in sports, music, events, teaching, etc. in his local area that might be of interest to him

Maybe he could even find a new friend in his local area who also loves fishing. Maybe they could even go fishing together on a fishing boat, pulling one big fish out of the sea after another.

The first interest I wrote on the very first piece of paper about the app was: Fishing.

Loneliness and absence

Our mission with We Are Friends is to reduce the loneliness of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It deeply touches us that people who are challenged for various reasons do not quite have the same conditions for making friendships that make us functionally healthy.

Traveling around the world / everyday life can be confusing and difficult for many, so physically meeting others can be a challenge. Loneliness and the absence of being together are many everyday and we would like to change that.

Our friendship app allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to find friends online through community of interest. It is a good starting point for making friendships, which hopefully can go on and become an offline friendship.

“Since there are many in the user group who have read and write difficulties, we have deliberately chosen to communicate with video and audio messages so that everyone can join. And of course our activity in the app is also through sound and images. It is important to us that users come to know us who are behind, so that we can clearly show that we are real people and not just a machine”


Our goal is to make the app as active as possible so that video messages with action requests will come from us to help users get active. It’s just more fun to talk to some people – instead of just saying something yourself.

It is a goal for us that our friendship app can have an impact on users’ everyday lives and can contribute to better quality of life and sense of belonging with others. That it is actually going to make a difference.

The communication between users is one to one communication. The friendships are only made when the applicant and the applicant for friendship have both indicated that they would like to be friends. They then have the opportunity to communicate and get to know each other better, for the benefit of each other.

We show that it is easy to just facilitate the framework, and then users will probably have to create the content themselves. It is not our job to instruct them in what to think, say, think and do. We believe that we create the best base, so the friendship magic comes from it.

We know, and know, the importance of friends and we sincerely believe that everyone is entitled to it. We hope our app can reduce the number of lonely people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Something to talk about

Some of us found it difficult to talk about nothing. What you call small-talk or nice-talk.

We don’t quite know how to get started on a conversation without topic. And at the same time you have to signal that you want to be in contact with others, that you are interested and that you are an exciting person.

And when we finally get together to ask an unknown person something, it almost seems like an assault, because we’ve warmed up to that question for so long that we throw it out with all the power we have, without so much as a warming introductory word.

Often you end up standing there alone and stepping over your toes, because you are actually sending a completely wrong signal to the outside world. A signal that one is not one that is contactable. And that is often completely wrong. Because you stand there and use all your energy and profits to be the opposite – you just don’t know how to attack it.

Imagine a conversation – a conversation where it is just that one party of the conversation talks only about a topic that only interests this person or where it is about convincing the other that you know a lot about this particular topic .

The time in such a conversation stops, and if you are one of the “uncontactable”, then it is a journey as a hostage in a subject you do not even know how to get out of – or for that matter should be able to invite in.

Often one also feels stupid compared to the other. Because you don’t necessarily know so much about photography, drone flying, fly fishing, pearl knitting or anything quite fifth. Because you have never had the interest.

A sincere and good conversation is one where both parties have the opportunity to talk and to listen. To invite, to meet, to see and view from multiple angles, to be allowed to agree to disagree.

But you do not get such a conversation if you have become hostage in the drone flight – about which you know nothing.

But what if you have a common interest to talk about? Doesn’t it look completely different to us “uncontactable”?

Well you can believe it does. Because then we can bid, then we have value, then we know something. If the interest is shared then we can meet in the conversation. And if, for a start, you have a common interest to talk about, then you are already well underway.

A friendly mission

At We Are Friends, our desire is to make life more fun, easier and full of self-help for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We believe in a better world and we are working to make a difference.

It’s part of We Are Friends’ mission to work with the heart and do something extra for others. We do this quite literally by giving part of our profits to friendship initiatives and ideas that can create good relationships both online and offline. And it is in our DNA that we are socially responsible in every way. Our motivation and motivation for making our friendship app

Help make a difference when it comes to breaking down loneliness.
We want to be the loving push in the back, which can give confidence and courage to be able to self communicate in a simple way that works for everyone, could bring the joy of “togetherness” even if you live at one end of the country and therefore only meet online
Being able to find friends for yourself based on a common interest and being able to give part of our profits to friendship initiatives and ideas that can create good relationships offline.

The goal is to offer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a way to create new friendships and maintain relationships in a way that works for them and in a form that originates from their own desires.

Best regards

We are friends ♥