How do we categorize communities?
Updated: May 3
Online communities, brand communities, internal communities… There are so many types of communities! So, how do we categorize them? This is an intriguing question and we tried to find an answer. What we discovered, is that there are various combinations and types of communities, so let's not consider this list too final. Rather, more like the foundation on which we work at Spaceflow.
Purpose of community existence
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 of their working or living environment.
Spaceflow facilitates the creation of these types of communities through providing a platform and community management in a space. Read the article How Spaceflow supports local communities.
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.
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've viewed the concept of community as physical, location-based, and highly localized. With the recent influx of digital devices and COVID-19 (which “forced” us to be online) the term community is no longer bound by geography. Today, people come together virtually, from all over the globe based on shared interests, common purpose, and social and/or professional reasons.
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.
Let's have a look at FeverBee, which specializes in online communities, and specifically how they divide communities.
Method 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. Members of these communities have a common interest related to a given brand or product. It could be potential or current customers, partners, and ambassadors.
As opposed to external communities there are internal communities that primarily serve employees, suppliers, or vendors to deepen engagement for those working with a given brand or company.
Openness of community
An open community is a community that anybody can join without the approval of a community manager. They will continue to be very important in people's lives - for connecting with friends you know, discovering new people, ideas and content, and giving people a platform. Now, there are more and more closed communities focused on privacy. There are some conditions which have to be fulfilled and approval is needed for these communities.
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