If you’re managing a community, there’s a natural pressure to try and create a destination where friendships are forged and people feel like they can belong.
And in many communities (notably around hobbies, health, and smaller groups) that’s the right approach.
But in many other communities, especially customer communities, that’s neither what members want nor what they need. You can waste a lot of time and cause a lot of frustration trying to build close relationships between members who neither need nor want them.
A sense of belonging is just one of many types of value a community offers. It’s not even the most valuable one.
In almost every member survey I’ve seen, access to information, collaborating with smart people, and seeing what others are doing, ranked higher than building friendships and feeling a sense of belonging.
Yes, the word ‘community’ has clear connotations, but that doesn’t mean those connotations are right to you. If you don’t feel members want to build relationships with each other (you can check with a survey), then you don’t need to push them to. You can focus on what they really want instead.