'Community' is sometimes portrayed as a fuzzy concept—something chaotic or difficult to define.
Sure, it's a term that may refer to everything from YouTube followers to marketing email lists. The dictionary defines community simply (and widely) as "a cohesive body of persons" — therefore, while using the phrase in these settings may make a seasoned community manager feel awkward.
But when we talk about communities in a commercial setting, we're not just using aspirational language to describe a brand's audience or client base. We're not only talking about folks who are aware of a brand or have purchased something from it.
The 'community' that most professional Community Managers work on on a daily basis, and the sort of community we're talking about when we get into metrics, methods, career ladders, and other topics, is a rather concrete entity.
Communities should tick the following boxes:
It is important to note that 'defining' a community is sometimes viewed as gatekeeping. However, this framework should not be utilized for that purpose. This isn't about saying, “Your community doesn't check all the criteria,” but rather, what community kinds are typically likely to be great places to apply a certain array of tactics?
Let's go through them one by one.
Communities are more than simple ideas. They are unique and defining programs with distinctive attributes. If a business has a community, most employees will be able to recognize it and describe where the community lives, who is a part of it, who is eligible, and what programs fall under the community. When a company lacks a community, it appears to be that company lacks a culture or mission.
Communities make use of channels that allow members to interact with the brand and their peers. This separates them from broadcast channels used by companies to deliver information and sell items — for example, an advertisement or a newsletter.
Communities often have a home base where members may participate in or access community features. This often indicates that they are driven by a community platform. Pensil provides an all-in-one solution for community building. It brings together members, discussions, and events.
Communities allow individuals to interact with the community and their members individually. The majority of the features and content generated for these communities are interactive in nature. Hence, it's really important to have SEO-optimized posts in the community. Pensil comes with inbuilt SEO optimization.
Brands using communities can easily distinguish who is a community member and who is not within their bigger audience or customer base. They utilize this data to analyze whether their community is meeting its objectives, both for the brand and for the members. Community objectives for brands are often related to retention, research, support, and content. Members' goals are often related to learning, developing relationships, and obtaining unique information.
Community members volunteered to join. Similarly, community members might depart even though their relationship with the brand remains intact. This is separate from the general usage of the term "community" to describe an audience, in which a brand refers to a broad group of individuals as a community, regardless of whether those individuals consider themselves community members or not.
Members of communities can contribute to content and discussions on the same level as official brand representatives. Members, for example, can begin chats. While audience members may normally comment on a brand's social media postings, they cannot generate emails from social media. Communities, on the other hand, achieve success through boosting member leadership, ownership, and engagement.
In circumstances when the borders between community and audience are frequently blurred, the framework outlined above can be quite useful in making a clear distinction between the two. And, as any experienced community manager will tell you, picking up the correct framework at the beginning eases up so much of the work for later.
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