Most companies don’t sell products/services that are interesting enough to build a community around. That strong common interest that brings a community together has to be really strong.
How many products do you have a strong interest in?
I love this press release for Sprite’s now defunct community The Sprite Yard. Especially this sentence: “The Coca-Cola Company is redefining the relationship between consumers and their sparkling beverages with the launch of the Sprite Yard”.
Brands convince themselves of this nonsense all the time. They confuse customers buying their products or liking their products with a willingness to participate in sustained ongoing interactions with others that buy those products.
There are very few products you can build a community around. These are products we spend a lot of time using, spend a lot of money on or products that we are emotionally invested in. Apple products were all three. They were expensive, we used them a lot and they represented a status and way of thinking. Apple didn’t need to spend much time on community development – they simply held major events for their community every six months.
Here is the point. It’s many times easier to build a community for a product/service we spend a lot of time/money on, or we have a strong emotional connection with. The benefits are greater too. The sad truth is most companies simply don’t give us products/services that fit these criteria.