Building communities is a key part of B2C marketing, especially in the cloud market, as no single vendor can thrive alone. In a cloud-enabled B2C community, cloud service providers band together with providers of content, applications, and services to form a healthy cloud ecosystem, such as the one we built in my last organization.
I was reminded of cloud-enabled B2C communities last week, while running Mt. Tamalpais, with my good friend Kevin, who, as I mentioned in my first post, inspired me to write this blog. Mt. Tam is the highest peak in the Marin Hills, with awe inspiring views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the East Bay. With over 100 miles of trails, Mt. Tam is a destination for runners, mountain bikers, and hikers. It is the site of several of my favorite runs, including the Quad Dipsea, the Miwok 100K, and the Headlands 50 and 100.
How the Cloud Helps Runners Expand Their Community
Tied together by long hours, incredible scenery, and let’s be honest, shared misery, ultra runners have long built a tight-knit community that spans age and ability. When I lived in Northern California, I was a member of a group which met at 7AM on Saturdays at various parks. We’d gather in the parking lot, chat while stretching, then head off for a 4 or 5 hour run. Different ages and speeds, we re-connected at various points during our run, and again at the end, for a bite to eat before heading off to resume our day. The ultra running community was small, so I made additional friends at races, both on the trail and at the finish line, where the fast and the slow would mingle together, sharing war stories.
Today, the cloud enables runners to build an expanded, virtual community. Companies like Strava and RunKeeper allow runners to use a GPS enabled device to track their runs and upload the workout information to a site, where it can be viewed and shared. (Check out the data from our 19 miler!) Users track their progress toward goals, analyze data, and compare their performance to others. Like other social media sites, Strava allows users to follow one another, post supportive comments, and build groups. This cloud-enabled B2C community provides the same aspects of our Saturday AM running group, just expanded across geography and time, and with a lot more features.
Mount Tam Has Long Inspired B2C Communities to Come Together
Fostering shared experiences among runners, bikers, and hikers is not a recent phenomenon on Mt. Tam. During last week’s run, I came across an example of a B2C community from last century. We reached the West Point Inn, on the southern slope of Mt. Tam, after eight miles of ascent.
The West Point Inn was built in 1904 at the western terminus of the Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway, known as “The Crookedest Railroad in the World. It served as a restaurant and stopover point for passengers connecting to the stage coach to Stinson Beach and Bolinas. The inn was also a popular destination for those seeking the views and the experience of riding the gravity train.
Although the railway ceased operation in 1930, the inn was run as a public tavern until World War II, when it was closed as unprofitable. In 1943, he Marin Municipal Water District planned to raze the abandoned buildings, considered a fire hazard. A group of hiking club members and local citizens formed the West Point Inn Club to take over the operation and maintenance of the facilities. Today, the West Point Inn Association, 500 members strong, continues to support the inn as a historic landmark and operating lodge. Every month,the association puts on a pancake breakfast as a fund-raiser. It’s hard to beat the views from the patio. With fog rolling in on San Francisco Bay, the West Point Inn continues to serve as a shining example of a B2C community coming together in the clouds to support sharing the beauty of Mt. Tam.
Have you run or hiked Mt. Tam? Do you have any examples of a similar B2C community based on history?