James reminded me this week they’re not the same thing.
If you really love a brand and what it represents, you’re probably part of a brand community. Harley Davidson, JetBlue, and Supreme all have strong brand communities.
Brand communities are forged through numerous hard choices at the highest level of the organizations over many, many, years. They have uncompromising values which their followers strongly identify with.
Very few of you are managing a brand community right now (and fewer have the power alone to build a brand community).
However, if you just want to fix problems with your phone, learn to use a piece of software better, or connect with others in the same situation as you, you’re probably going to join and participate in a customer community.
Customer communities begin with specific needs customers need to solve. Members will engage with each other to satisfy those needs (and those needs may evolve over time), but they’re not going to feel the brand represents their identity.
It’s easy to get confused between the two (and they clearly overlap in many areas). You can waste your time and your audience’s attention on things you think your members want to hear because they love their brand. It’s usually far better to focus that time on the immediate.
What are the problems your members face this week, how you can solve them better than last week?
What are the new opportunities your members can seize this week? How can you help them seize those opportunities?
It’s a different kind of work. No less valuable, but far more specific in the challenges of the day.