Screenshot of Paris Paloma's video for Labour: The Cacophony, available on YouTube

Community Case Study: What We Can Learn from Paris Paloma

Have you ever had a song work its way deep inside of your head?

That was my experience with Paris Paloma’s Labour.

Whether you’ve heard the song or not, stick with me for a moment. The payoff is worth it.

Promise.

I encountered the song a year ago when the hook, which doesn’t come in until 2:46 into the four-minute song, went viral fast on TikTok and Reels.

Dubbed by media as a “fiery feminist anthem” and “viral soundtrack of female rage,” the song’s official video is a period concept steeped in symbolism and double meaning.

Though I can’t dismiss the political, human rights and social justice angles, the story I see is even bigger than the content of the song.

The BIG STORY here is the lesson we can all learn from the community that has evolved in response to the song.

Early edits show compilations of Henry VIII’s queens, Greek mythology, and scenes from Game of Thrones, and House of the Dragon. In the past year, lyrics have been used in videos highlighting challenges of chronic illness, historical expectations of women, marginalization of those with disabilities, family dynamics, the suffragette movement, and everything in between.

In many ways, the community response is bigger than the artist herself. It’s become a global movement, inspiring rich, emotional reactions from men and women alike.

“This isn’t our song, but we also feel the pain,” said one male viewer. “Sons of abused mothers, brothers of abused sisters, friends of abused friends. … if a person we love hurts, we hurt too.”

Paloma has embraced the response, releasing LABOUR (the cacophony), which mixes over 350 voices and videos in a harmonized track. The YouTube show notes credit 105 contributors.

The Global Business Lesson to Learn

  • You can control what you say but not how others respond — When 22-year-old Paloma penned the song in her UK home, she could not have predicted the reactions it would trigger beyond Europe. And yet individuals across Asia, Africa and the Americas resonate deeply with the lyrics.
  • Each of us views the world under the lens of our own lived experiences — Is Labour a song about escaping an abusive relationship or a lazy, entitled partner? Is it about collapsing under societal pressure or rising up against it? Interpretations vary, and each is true to the person based on their own life. 
  • People are desperate to belong and be seen as worthy of belonging — A common thread in reaction videos is the sentiment of no longer being invisible or an outcast, and a call to others who’ve felt equally alone.

Applying These Lessons as a Community-Builder

This is a powerful example of how art can inspire, mobilize, and connect individuals around shared experiences and causes. Those connected individuals are what make up a community. You don’t have to go viral to leverage these lessons in your own work. You can:

  • Be specific and authentic in addressing universal experiences — Don’t be afraid to personalize your content, speaking to individual segments of your community in addition to the collective. 
  • Invite members to share their voices and stories — A community is the sum of its parts. Make room for individuals to add their perspectives and experiences to group conversations.
  • Promote an immersive community experience — Communities work when there are open lines of communication between all members and the experiences shared are reflected and validated in a meaningful way.
  • Encourage action and accountability — Everyone needs to know the next step to take, and they are more likely to take the next step if they believe you’ll notice. So take notice and acknowledge what you observe. By applying these lessons, online communities can cultivate a supportive, engaged, and dynamic environment where members feel seen, heard, and motivated to contribute to the collective narrative.

Everyone deserves to have a place where they feel like they belong. As a community leader, you’re taking an active role in bringing people closer together to facilitate that belonging. You don’t have to go viral on TikTok for your work to make a difference in the lives of your community.

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Social Media Consultant

Tonya Kubo is founder of Team Kubo Community Management. She supports experts, entrepreneurs, and enterprises in developing highly engaged online communities so they can grow their groups and get results without feeling frazzled. See the team in action at tonya.link/group.

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