2. What are the features of an online community?
Now we move onto “the community hexagon” which nicely laid out and easy to understand.
Let me give you a quick run down on these points – precisely tailored content is compelling content – not the mess of some portals – and advertising is an important form of content if done properly. Identification with Brand is really identification with community, and has the same quality as it does offline – identification isn’t a strong enough term in my book. Affinity is better, addiction better still heh.
On that point, go see Sid Meier’s politically incorrect community “supporting” Civilization addicts – CivAnon. The “community” has a “blog” but when you click on the blog message its a screenshot for Civ. Very naughty, very funny.
Back to work – awareness of other like-minded users. Members need to know your target market and that they are part of it. I like invite-only strategies like Google’s Gmail uses, but only if you truly have something unique and compelling. Multiple means to communicate with other members is also important – messenger, forums, blogs, forum mail, and the very underutilised IRC: Check out Stratics Chat (ability to interact with others on website).
This next one – opportunity to shape the development of the website – is going to be a point of difference in the future. Its so much more than customisation. Wiki style communities rule. Its not lawlessness, its the community developing and enforcing their own laws. All good stuff. I think his term mutual benefits of participation is what we call “participatory marketing” which I’ve spoken about before – user and host both gain from interactivity, not passivity.