We all are members of various communities, whether family, friends, or others with common interests. Online communities are established on the same concepts as in-person communities, except virtual ones.
People join online communities for various reasons; everyone has a story to tell. First, however, we need to debunk many myths about joining an online community, which is precisely what this article aims to do.
Want to dig a little deeper? Viafoura can help you understand guidelines to be followed while creating an online community.
What Is An Online Community?
An online community is a set of individuals who have a common interest or goal and connect over the internet. They have their own rules and requirements related to engagement, management, and moderation.
Similar to real-life groups, online communities are formed around a single topic of interest, where members frequently work towards the same goals. They meet the requirements of the members of the community by promoting learning and networking opportunities that benefit everyone, whether on a personal or professional level.
The Need For An Online Community
Online communities aim to understand what the members want and then offer them the tools to effect change. Listening is the most critical aspect of an online community. Key benefits of online communities include:
- Reaching a broader audience
- Access a wide range of information
- Builds greater social cohesion
- Informed decision making
- Community ownership
- Larger range of perspectives
- Better responsiveness
- Identifies real issues
Misconceptions Of An Online Community
Let’s examine the importance of online communities and the eight misconceptions of joining them.
Anybody Can Easily Create An Online Community
Creating and operating an online community is not as easy as running a group on social media platforms. Rigorous planning, proven expertise, and measured approaches are necessary to develop a community that benefits its members and its support company.
Only One Person Runs The Show
Successful online communities are not built and run by just one or two persons. Instead, the community’s success always depends on the combined efforts of everyone involved.
Inevitably, the community will debate issues that would demand input from everyone interested in the topic. One person alone cannot manage the community. Its success depends on the entire group.
Community Management Is Same As Social Media Management
Managing a social media-based community and social media group is not the same. Both can use the same channels, but for different reasons. Social media is a channel for disseminating a message and appealing to the target audience.
Online communities establish relationships between all the members and encourage engagement to solve common issues. Two-way interactions are vital to forming a community.
People Will Join Quickly
People already have a plethora of offline and online platforms to converse and engage with one another.
An online community is a dynamic, living entity where all the members need to be engaged daily. To that end, it requires a sense of purpose as well as the ability to provide value to the members. People require a compelling cause to join and even more compelling reasons to participate.
You need to convince them of the benefits of joining and interacting with your business, specifically on the platform you’ve established for them. You must extend your hand and draw them in – they will not approach you.
Online Communities Will Have Multiple Features
The fundamental benefit of joining an online community is to communicate with one another on a topic of common interest. Adding multiple features or functionalities may degrade its overall purpose.
Community is, first and foremost, a bonding experience, and communication, of course, is at the center of bonding.
Why provide things that your community does not require? If your community’s common focus is movies, it may not make sense to encourage members to spam the group by uploading all their favourite movies. Instead, discussions on the story, characters, and music, will pique the interest of others.
Online Communities Does Not Have Strict Guidelines
Nobody enjoys a dissenting voice. Additionally, your community emphasis may object to someone using sensitive or aggressive language.
It is critical to establish standards and community guidelines for interaction. However, once an active community is established, you no longer need to spend time policing it; your members will take care of it for you.
Indeed, when members band together against a negative contributor, they develop a stronger sense of shared identity and fortify their relationships.
Active Members Will Keep The Community Engaged
Lively, conversational, and charming members will help things move more smoothly to some extent, but you can’t bank on them forever. Don’t expect your members to interact with one another without your help and prompting.
The online community will always require a manager’s supervision, feedback, and periodic calls to action. Without a leader, a community will inevitably scatter.
A Community Is A Dictatorship
While basic ground principles will always apply, a community will never be totally under the power or responsibility of a single administrator. To be effective, it is necessary to solicit feedback and share ideas with internal and external members.
Additionally, community management must listen to members to ensure their demands and aspirations are satisfied.
Nobody likes to feel alone, yet millions of people are experiencing this due to the ongoing pandemic. Being a part of an online community of individuals with whom you’ve formed connections is a powerful antidote to loneliness.
Furthermore, these connections can be made at any time, with the push of a button on your smartphone. So your online community will always be there for you and that the people you’ve made online will be there to listen is reassuring.
Many people find online groups intriguing because of their anonymity and 24-hour accessibility. But it’s not easy to build and keep a good community, and there are many myths about joining and being a part of it successfully. So you must understand the pitfalls beforehand and genuinely take advantage of an online community.