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About Rich

  • Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy and Professional Community Management course. Richard is also the author of Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities. Richard's clients have included Google, AutoDesk, United Nations, Novartis, Wikipedia, Oracle, The World Bank, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Fidelity Investments, and many more. Richard is also the the author of the Online Community Manifesto.

    e-mail: richard@feverbee.com
    T:+44 (0)7763 831931

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Comments

Colette Martin

Thanks for a great definition of community versus following. Terrific advice!

Sebastian

I love this post Richard, great distinguisher between following and community!

Brandon

Wow, that's an interesting point, especially in an age where everyone wants to be an expert on how to create community. It's a popular buzz word and you help put it into a realistic perspective. Good point!

Anna McD

Echoing previous commenters. Very useful post. Thanks.

twitter.com/communitygirl

Rich, this is one of the smartest things you've written, and you write good stuff. This is gospel as far as I'm concerned. that is why I tweeted it yesterday. So many people don't get this. the term community is being commoditized and misused. You got it right with this one.

Jason Peck

I still think companies that want big followings can have smaller communities, especially for things like buyers clubs, beta-tester programs, idea groups, etc. But I agree with your overall point.

Terri Griffith

Communities versus Followings: Very helpful distinction that I'll be using in an upcoming panel. Like too Jason's point that you can drill down.

@blowoutcomb

great point...My question is can the two exist together or are they mutually exclusive? Can my community have a following?

Alexander Z

Interesting article. I certianly agree that communities are not for everyone.

But how can you say Coca-Cola has no community? It has one of the most famous facebook fan pages for any company. In fact it is notable because it was started by two cola enthusiasts and not the company itself. By your definition for a community as 'an audience that interacts with each other' - Coca Cola's community seems to be just that! A quick glance through the postings and topics, and you will see that the members are discussing a wide variety of things, and there is no direct interaction from Coca-Cola.
Also, Coca-Cola communities in the pre-facebook era [think late 90s] were infamous for bashing Pepsi communities [see Muniz + Hammer, 2001]

sources:
http://www.slideshare.net/iStrategy/coca-colas-social-media-strategy

http://www.facebook.com/cocacola?v=wall

Richard Millington

Coca Cola is the best example Alexander. If you look at the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/cocacola) you will see 5 million members. A small handful are blasting our inane messages on the wall. No-one is interacting with each other.

There is a very, very, small audience on the discussion boards - but most posts have just 1 post.

Coca cola is the best example of a following I can find.

Nursing gowns

wow! dude! your the best blogger ever! anyways, thanks for sharing this informative post, i agree with that.

Dan Latendre

Not sure I agree... 100%. Interesting view on following versus community. Our customers (IGLOO Software) create online communities both internally and externally. Internal communities are usually based around teams or groups with specific interests. They use internal online business communities to collaborate, share and build relationships with other team members. Why? To help with their daily business activities - improve productivity and to make work tasks more efficient.

On the other hand, companies also build external communities to build stronger relationships with key stakeholder groups - could be customers, partners or even alumni or experts. The common theme generally is around a specific interest or need i.e. product or support or even innovation.

I agree with Richard... online business communities tend to me smaller, focused and more suited for knowledge based industries.

Brakkish Hammerfist

Atmosphere, Environment and Tools.

While I agree with the basic idea that communities and following audiences are two different entities, there are ways to narrow the gap between the two.

Provide the right atmosphere, environment and tools to either of your groups, and you end up with two separate "clusters" seeking to contact the other. It's our human nature to do so.

Let's use rock concerts as an example.

30,000 fans show up (or "followers") and camp the lawn before the show starts. People mingle, kill time together, tell stories of past shows and experiences, share their food and drinks with one another, cheer together, party together.
It's not long before the mass audience or 'followers' realize each other, and their common interests. The focus then becomes as much about the "community" as it was about the rock-gods they came to see. Fan clubs are excellent existing examples where the gap between "community" and "follower" can be narrowed or bridged if done right.

Brakkish Hammerfist
Community Manager - Hammerfist Gaming Community
www.hammerfistclan.com

Damian Watson

You're right that most brands/companies have used social media to encourage followings. As others have hinted at here I'd wondering how powerful and valuable it would be for a company to build a community?

Communities help build products in ways that companies couldn't dream of.

red cross cna classes

I like Taylor Swift and all but Entertainer of the Year!!! Come on, they didn't even have a video of her performing to show when the nominees were announced.

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