I went out to Wikipedia, and I searched for “Community”. Here is the statement I found: “Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion”. Wow. Communities sound so warm and cozy. This makes sense. Communities are comfortable places where people are able to get together, and discuss topics that they have passion about. If you have ever stumbled over a automotive repair forum, you know what I’m talking about. Digital kudos and friendly elbow jabs are being handed out just like it’s a bunch of guys hanging out, shooting the breeze in a workshop. Cozy.
Making sense and being involved in these types of communities must be a top priority. When I put myself in the shoes of a specific customer segment, I start hitting google and begin identifying the hotbeds of activity in that space. This is not always easy, because the search should not be limited to a specific platform or technology. Enter this activity with an open mind. With very niche markets and industries, the search may be difficult and provide limited or fragmented / spread community results.
If you are finding that the industry you are researching has a weak community across the forum world, social networks and blogs, you just found opportunity! I consider this to be especially true if you manage a brand that sits directly in the industry.
Going back to the concept of what a “Community” is, there are many parallels that can be made between physical / locational communities and online digital communities. It can be recognized that for a community to truly form and mature, structure and commitment must be dedicated. In many cases, digital communities become structured by a few dedicated people who provide focus and direction to the conversation, attitude and tone of the messages. Just think, you have the opportunity to build the structure, network and thought leadership that can be the force in your industry. So, while you may have found opportunity, be ready to dedicate the right level of time or resources to ensure success.
Photo Credit: danielpgauer