The term community is starting to get used a little too loosely as more companies realize that a community is now table stakes. Thinking of an online community as a place where people who have a common interest can register can post information doesn’t really capture what community is really about. More importantly, it doesn’t define what makes for a successful community.
To be clear, this is not about software. Community can exist in blog comments or it can exist on Twitter. Conversely, sometimes you see something that is labeled a community and that looks like a community but doesn’t feel like a community. This holds true more often for customer or professional communities than for pure enthusiast communities.
A community is not:
- A rational economic exchange with minimal social interaction
- A place where transient users can post an opinion
- A place where only moderators respond to original posters
So what makes for a healthy community? There are a long list of things that can be included here but maybe the most important ingredient is that within a good community, there is the possibility of developing friendship. Ask yourself, does my community ever lead to friendships between members?