As many are trying to capture massive amounts of page views on the web, others are more concerned with creating real engagement with a niche audience via online communities.
Jeremiah Owyang is searching for the best definition of online community. This is the one he likes best so far:
“Where a group of people with similar goals or interests connect and exchange information using web tools.”
Robert Scoble looks at the real value that people create with their audience online; its not just about collecting eyeballs.
“Are you getting content that no one else is?… Does that content cause conversations to happen?… it’s not the size of your audience that matters. It’s WHO is in the audience that matters.”
One community manager shares what she has learned:
- “It is essential to organize your volunteers and empower them to take on their own ideas and implement them.”
- “I have had to learn to not take it personally if people don’t agree with my choices in structuring the community.”
- “Enlist your most opinionated and helpful volunteers and create a “management group” of sorts.”
Howard Owens looks at the concept of outsourcing community management, through services like Topix. He aggregates a number of voices on this issue, including Steve Yelvington:
“This is a great opportunity to listen to the community that’s being thrown away. You can’t grow to understand what people care about, what’s on their minds, behaving like an absentee landlord.”
If you think that online community is just a fad, you may want to look at how kids are growing up today. The New York Times profiles the influence of online virtual worlds that target kids:
“Get ready for total inundation,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer, who estimates that 20 million children will be members of a virtual world by 2011, up from 8.2 million today.”