Why Online Community Management Matters Across the World Wide Web and Social
In a world of uncertainty, online communities are thriving more than ever. That’s why this is the perfect opportunity to join one or create one. The options for joining or creating an online community are endless. In short, online communities provide a sense of belonging and connection during a time of few interactions and a lot of stress. As a queer, music-loving, video-game playing, sneaker shopping, art collecting, generation-zer here are some of my favorite online communities:
Are you queer or questioning? https://www.autostraddle.com/
Are you a music lover? https://www.last.fm/ or https://www.beatstars.com/feed
Did your childhood consist of an attachment to Sims? https://simscommunity.info/
Do you collect sneakers? https://niketalk.com/
Want to find out more about affordable art and talk to artists? chat.creativeboom.com
What is an Online Community?
An online community is a group of people who share a common interest coming together to form an online space dedicated to a specific want or need. It may seem like a simple definition, but creating a vibrant online community is a lot harder than it sounds.
You must keep in mind that an online community is NOT a place for customer service or to promote your own organization. An online community IS a place to collaborate, share experiences and be heard by others who share similar beliefs, values and/or interests.
These spaces should promote positivity and encourage members to share, post and ask questions frequently. That being said, an online community will struggle to flourish on its own. Everything needs to be coordinated once created or else it will lose it’s momentum.
Why should you belong to or create an Online Community?
Online communities allow us to time travel. We can connect to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
The internet allows us to explore, break barriers and tear down walls. We are no longer bound to a physical location, time or place. All of our social anxieties can be washed away simultaneously with a click of a mousepad.
An online community does NOT ideate preconceived notions about a member, but rather offers an accessible and approachable platform for anyone looking.
Online communities allow for the multitasker to comment, like, share, watch, and listen all at once. The taboo of having to wait to speak up when it’s “appropriate” has been removed and your opinion mattering has replaced it.
Balancing an Audience.
An audience, although separate from your community, is a group of people who consume your content independently. These people don’t necessarily experience the content you create together, but rather separate, forming their own interpretations.
An audience refers to the number of subscribers or followers your company has.
Balancing a Community.
While your audience is focused on what you and only you have to say, your community is responding to what you're saying while engaging with you and the rest of your community.
A community brings together the people who want to talk about a topic and keeps them coming back for more. A community wants to talk with you. Members come to a community intentionally, not by accident, and because of that the engagement rates are much higher than organic social media.
As members return to the community their intent and relationship grow deeper promoting customer retention.
Building an online community not only benefits the customer, but also the company. A University of Michigan study found that customers spend 19 percent more after joining a company’s online community.
The Benefits Behind an Online Community
1) Online Communities Help Build Trust.
2) Communities Create Long-Term Customer Loyalty
3) Communities are a Research Tool
How to Build an Online Community Across Social
1) Identifying Who Your Community is
2) A Mission/Purpose
3) Decide Where You Should Build Your Community
An online community needs to have a single, primary home.
Pros (and Cons) of Online Communities on Social
Building a community on social media has its pros and cons. One of the biggest pros would be avoiding all the costs associated with building a platform for your own online community, but it also has its disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage with building an online community on social media is the idea that these social platforms (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) can be removed or taken down at any time, thus your community falls with it. When deciding whether or not to have your online community on social or on its own platform, it really comes down to who your community is and what your mission/purpose will be. Keep in mind that some people have begun shying away from certain socials due to the uncertainty of a social platform staying up and avoiding “blackouts” (i.e. Facebook).
With all of the above information taken into consideration, remember, your online community will only be as vibrant as the people within it.