How do we categorize communities?
Updated: Jan 15
An online community, brand community, internal community… There are so many types of communities! But how do we categorize them? That is an intriguing question and we tried to find an answer to it. There are various combinations and other types of communities for sure, so let's not consider this list as a final, rather like a foundation of which we work from at Spaceflow.
Purpose of community existence
Brand community. "A brand community is a community with a specific business objective lead by an executive sponsor, where a company creates a space for people with a common sense of identity to participate in ongoing, shared experiences.” More on this can be found on What is Brand Community? by Carrie Melissa Jones.
Product community. A product community is a community formed on the basis of attachment to a specific product.
Local community. Communities of people brought together by a common place – building, workplace, campus or residential area. These communities are very powerful and often arise naturally because people who live or work at the same place spend a lot of time together, meet on a daily basis, have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships and take extra care about their working or living environment.
Spaceflow facilitates the creation of these types of communities through providing a platform and community management in a space.
Interest community. Communities of people who share the same interest or passion. Typically these communities derive from sports, hobbies and leisure activities.
Community of Practice. “Community of Practice are groups of people who share a passion for something that they do, and who interact regularly to improve their abilities through collaboration, group exercises, knowledge sharing, and empathetic listening. They are meant to develop learners capabilities, build and exchange knowledge, and most specifically, lay the groundwork for identifying the community’s domain (area of expertise and interest).” Lana Kristine Jelenjev
Impact communities. An impact community is a community formed on the basis of attachment to specific beliefs – political, religious, spiritual, social, ecological, etc.
Way of communication
“Historically, we have viewed the concept of community as physical, location-based, and highly localized. With the recent influx of digital devices and online connectivity, the term community is no longer bound by geography. Today, people can come together virtually, from all over the globe based on shared interests, common purpose, and social and/or professional reasons.” Lana Kristine Jelenjev
In the paragraph above you can see that we distinguish online and offline communities. Online communities are about people needing an easier and more accessible way to get together. Their members communicate virtually. On the contrary offline or in-person communities are communities of people brought together by geographic boundaries, whose members meet physically. There can be a combination of both.
While online communities can help us connect, they can also be damaging and blur the line of who our friends really are. They can expose people to unhealthy communication, including trolling. It is important that, as a society, we evolve to become skilled in developing and sustaining healthy online relationships in online communities.
Let´s have a look at FeverBee, which specializes in online communities, how they divide communities.
Way of origin
A community can arise either spontaneously, naturally or artificially by an institution or company.
External communities are those that primarily serve people outside of the organization. It could be potential or current customers, partners, and ambassadors.
As opposed to external communities there are internal communities that primarily serve employees and other groups involved in the organization.
Openness of Community
An open community is a community that anybody can join without any approval of a community manager/builder. They will continue to be very important in people's lives - for connecting with everyone you know, discovering new people, ideas and content, and giving people a voice more broadly. But now, there are more and more closed communities, which are focused on privacy. There are some conditions which have to be fulfilled and there is approval needed.
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