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What makes a community?

November 11, 2009

What makes a community?

A group of people with common interests or experience?

True, but the commitment of individuals within this group will range from highly engaged to slightly interested. And the group membership will be fluid, as people dip in and out. That can make it difficult to build the community.

So it’s a group of people with only a little in common?

Perhaps this is not their main community,  the one with which they feel the strongest connection.  But perhaps that does not matter, as long as there are sufficient people that do relate strongly to the group. People’s interests change over time, as circumstances change, so the community will change too. Shared interests will become more apparent when individuals demonstrate a willingness to communicate.

A few people making a lot of noise?

Great if they are people that others respect, whether they are elected leaders or self-chosen by their willingness to participate. Not so good if it is a few individuals who are twisting opinion and creating bias to suit their own interests.

Plus a lot of people lurking quietly in the background?

If they are hanging around, then chances are they are interested in what is being said.  They are probably quite content to stay in the background, but this is where the depth of community knowledge truly lies. The challenge is to captivate this group. Encouraging participation and sharing should be an ongoing activity of good community leaders.

How can a community grow stronger?

People need to experience the benefits of being part of a community. That means that those who are the most engaged need to reach out to others, offering support with no strings and showing what can be achieved. Above all, a community is about sharing and communicating knowledge, so that everyone grows.

The new social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook & Ning,  have one important role to play in community building, and that is to enable people to communicate more easily. All you need is willing participants, its as simple as that!

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me.


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