Building a Tribe – Secret Ingredients Discovered!

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. 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 and to learn. So when I had a chance to help out Maija and Jani in building Tervahiihto community, I was more than happy to start building Tervahiihto tribe. We have had the following principles, which have been the cornerstones for building Tervahiihto tribe: values, inspiration, trust, connecting people and keeping fit.

Inspiration and trust comes from shared values

Values deeply impact how people communicate and interact. That´s why we emphasize our shared values, which inspire and create trust within  Tervahiihto community. It increases confidence and helps people in connecting with others. People need to have confidence in themselves, and our sponsors need to have confidence on us. So it really comes down to building trust within the community. Trust in Tervahiihto builds on same shared values:

  1. Competence in event management
  2. Healthy lifestyle in endurance sports
  3. Joy and excitement from sports
  4. Continuous improvement

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 their limits – again and again.

Continuous improvement and growth

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, participate and share. For example our Tervahiihto workout group got 130 members within first 12 hours and now when the season is almost over it has almost 200 members.

Group workouts and camps are also great for networking and making new friends. We encourage people to push themselves and to exceed their limits. Participating in Tervahiihto coaching and group workouts makes it easier to participate actual race.


Tervahiihto uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to have conversations with Tervahiihto tribe and potential new tribe members. CommsSquad team is behind social media marketing 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. Tervahiihto needs their personal brand to attract top 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:

It is never too late to start doing endurance sports and  learn how to ski.

This year dancer and dancing guru  Merja Satulehto took the challenge and is now #matkallatervahiihtoon.

Creating acupuncture points

Speaking directly with the community members is important and is possible via social media channels in groups, email, on the phone, or in person in various kinds of f2f events.

“Inspiring and well structured face to face meetings are like acupuncture points, that radiate the shared values and energy through the networks.”

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:

  • On a way to Tervahiihto coaching for a brand advocate
  • TervaPolku coaching for firms and groups
  • RullaTervahiihto Roller Skiing event in August
  • Tervahiihto for Kids
  • Participating in other sports events as Tervahiihto Team
  • Cross-promotion with RokuaMTB and RokuaTrailRun
  • Tervahiihto Group Workouts in Sundays
  • On a way to Tervahiihto Camp in Pikku-Syöte

Through these events we create value for members who participate in community. People get inspiration and learn from the best, people make friends and get 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.

Keeping fit -physically and mentally

Keeping fit means monitoring results, creating change and developing. In order to keep up and lead the development in the field, Tervahiihto is building “listening” practices. Monitoring competition and trends is important. It is also important to determine what events abroad are succeeding, and how they are doing it, and how this information can improve our tribe.

By incorporating growth, engagement, listening, and continuous improvement, 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:

“Define your values and passion and act on that. Plan f2f and virtual interaction and events smartly, do what you have planned, measure and monitor the impact, collect feedback, learn and improve.”

It is the same for everyone. Only the people, content and tools vary. Let me know if you are interested in co-operation!





Annual an a way to Tervahiihto X-country skiing camp was held in Pikku-Syöte skiing resort in December 17th-19th 2016. We had an opportunity to train almost like professionals for two and half days.

On a way to Tervahiihto camp was also in Vuokatti 2015. We had an opportunity to ski on a snow, do Nordic walking exercize and spend time in a spa as well. Awesome!


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