One often generalizes the term “online community”. You may say “the Facebook community is in a good mood” and thus include all Facebook users as a community. With the term “online community” we refer to a narrower meaning: An online community is an organized group of internet users who communicate on a platform on a certain topic and interact with each other in a virtual space. The access is managed via login and community management takes place.
In other words: An online community is not just a band’s audience, they are the “hardcore fans”. Members of this community are deeply connected to the band and also share their passion with like-minded fans.
The crucial difference between online communities and social networks
A social network like LinkedIn or Facebook provides users the technical basis to connect with one another. They even get the opportunity to exchange certain topics in groups. But strictly speaking, that’s not an online community.
More and more companies are offering online communities to provide their prospects and customers a platform for like-minded people who share their passion for a specific topic or subject. The aim is to develop a meaningful relationship, a common identity, and a sense of belonging. Here the members are not only part of the group (like in social networks), but active participants.
Your benefits of having your own online community
As a company with an online community, you will gain key insights into the behavior, knowledge, and needs of your prospects and customers. This way you are able to significantly strengthen and win your customer's loyalty, get inspiration for (further) development of products and services, and even create a platform on which your customers can become brand ambassadors.
In short: An online community gives you the opportunity to effectively deal with the hard core of your target group. It is a tool to build a deep connection to the company and attract more qualified prospects and potential customers. This way you create a kind of ecosystem around your brand and products. Social media platforms and other channels can be integrated into it in order to set up diverse marketing campaigns with a clear target orientation and chances of success.
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