Online (or also virtual) communities are online platforms or virtual rooms where a group of people is interacting with each other on a regular basis. In contrast to market places online community members are united in a common activity or interest. They can get to know each other, interact post questions and get answers. The main characteristic thus is the member interaction.
The community movement emerged out of the raise of Web.2.01).Before that user generated content has been no issue in the internet world. Only the technical evolution in changing content of websites and interacting with other users allowed the huge development into the community world and finally social network world.
But not only the notwork world is changeing. Also the real firms reacted on the internetgrowth. With so called Social Media Monitoring. The last years they learned to observe, analyse and interpret the postings of the people. So they are able to react to all positive and negative oppinions of them.
Types of online communities
You can find several approaches in order to categorize online communities. As fast as the internet world is changing as fast are communities growing and developing.
Internet message boards:
Is a general term for any online “bulletin board” where you can leave and expect to see responses to messages you have left2)
: A virtual world
is a computer-mediated reality which presents the user with an experience which can be reasoned about as if it is a world, but the represenation of that world is not required to be analog to a possible physical alternative3)
e.g. Second Life
Online chat rooms
: Place online where a group of people can get together and chat about a particular subject or just to chat. Usually you will need to sign in at least so you have a name in the room and then you can see who else is in the room. Some chat rooms allow you to talk to one individual without the others seeing your conversation4)
Social networks/Social Media
: Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. These sites typically use technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs to allow users to interact. Prominent examples are e.g.5)
Users spending their leisure time in the internet in order to talk with other users, to chat, to post questions and get answers. The topics are broad. Over the last few years Social Network Games
have developed into a major factor among the potential leasure activities in Social Networks. Currently three of the top four apps on Facebook are Games. Popular games have immense user-numbers, currently topped by CityVille
with more then 90 million and Farmville
with more then 45 million active monthly users.6)
Fix something: Users have a problem and they are asking the virtual community to solve the problem. Topics can be “do it yourself”, “Cars”, “Hobbies”, “Internet / PC / technical problems” etcetera.
If you want to improve your life, want to change your job, or need to get help on a certain personal issue e.g. medical questions than you will find plenty of advisory communities online.
Peer-to-peer Community: Fan forums, special interest communities
Community revolving around editorial/authored/branded content
Customer Relations/Support: Managing technical support and feedback with community elements
Innovation/Ideation Community: Solving problems, improving products
: Allowing any type of user generated content to be published e.g. youtube, flickr8)
Most popular online communities
Online / Virtual communities are the place where the internet user is posting its opinions and is receiving its information. The community world has grown to an unmanagable world of plenty of blogs, boards, communities, chats and portals.
In times of Web 2.0 and consequential the Social Media Movement companies shouldn't underestimate the power of these channels. In 2011 only 7% of all money spend on online advertising in the US went into Facebook, while Google and Yahoo! took a combined share of 52%.9)
Being part of it and creating valuable content can influence the success financially and image wise of a company.