This week’s material laid the groundwork for understanding what community management consists of and how it came to be. One of the readings, History and emergence of online communities, details the rise of online communities. Relaying the inherent social nature of online communities, the report emphasizes that to recognize an online community for what it is begins first with a study of the social interactions of the members. There’s a distinction to be made here: the social community varies greatly from the social network.
While social networks bring together people with all sorts of interests and often struggle with security and privacy issues, the social community strives to bring together strangers by enabling them to connect, collaborate and share, often without the need to disclose private and personal information.
Going forward as both an objective observer of the evolution of online communities as well as a participant in some, I would like to focus on the elements that set online communities apart from current online social networks.
From a professional standpoint, it seems invaluable to know the difference between what Facebook can offer a business versus what a Reddit-type community can offer. Traditionally, a network like Facebook connects people irrespective of interest and similarities. Whereas, an online community like Reddit connects people based specifically on similar interests and a shared sense of humor.
For growing brands and companies there are benefits to being a part of both types of online entities, but I wonder if one boasts any significant superiority over the other.
- Is it more favorable to appeal to a mass audience, regardless of whether they indicate interest?
- Or is it more favorable to appeal to a targeted audience that is known to share in said interest?
- In the increasingly crowded online sphere, which holds more value, the online community or the social network?