Where Do We Experience Community? (and why forums are struggling)

December 11, 2014Comments Off on Where Do We Experience Community? (and why forums are struggling)

Many platform vendors are going through a tough time. 

Others are experiencing breakneak growth

Part of that can be attributed to the PR, marketing and sales teams of each.

The rest is trend-related. The big trend is where we experience a community.

Do we go to distinct, carefully branded, destinations to experience the community?

Or does the community come to us through existing channels? 

This swings back and forth. Communities like The WELL came to us. Forums and most communities since were places we went to. Now it's swinging back. 

It's getting harder and harder to persuade people to go to a place to experience a community.

Attention is finite and competition is ferocious. To persuade members to go to a place we need every member to drop an existing habit and create a new one. That's only going to get harder to do. There will be big, inspiring, winners. I wouldn't bet on being one of those winners. 

The great exceptions like communities hosted by Lithium/Jive and co prevail by heavy marketing and forcing members to use them. If I have a question about my GiffGaff sim card, I have to go to the GiffGaff community to answer it. 

If you're working on a community platform today, I'd focus on ensuring the community can come to members through their existing habits. This means e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, mobile, and other channels they use. These habits will continually evolve and platforms should evolve to those habits. 

The design and look of the traditional community platform will matter less because less people will visit the platform. They will respond to interactions as the interactions come to them. 
Right now many rely on e-mail. But e-mail isn't secure – especially for the coming generation of members. 

The platforms that don't allow members to respond and participate within their existing medium will struggle. Those that get this right will thrive. 

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