We can agree a group of people standing in a room aren't a community.
A community requires a psychogical connection – an understanding that they, together, are part of something.
More than technology and interactions, we create a sense of community.
It's the most rewarding, positive, and powerful thing we do.
We take groups of people and build a strong sense of community amongst them.
If, when looking at an activity, you ask; will this help us build a stronger sense of community?. The answer, 90% of the time, is no. You can skip these features, these problems, these activities. You can focus on the 10% of activities which actually help build a community.
All the benefits (ROI) derived from communities is derived from creating a sense of community. If you can get the people you're targeting to feel a sense of community with one another, you're rewarded.
You're rewarded with increased propensity to share knowledge, high quanity and quality of interactions, better behaviour, increased retention, increased purchases of products.
Better still, a strong sense of community makes everything else easier. It's easier to attract members, gain referrals, convert newcomers to regulars, sustain high levels of retention and participation.
Yet, most don't even measure this. We don't check if the people participating in our groups actually feel a part of something. We don't check if they feel connected to one another. In fact, we rarely talk about creating a sense of community at all.
When you create a strong sense of community, amazing things happen.
When we're talking about a community, we're talking about the sense of community felt amongst individuals. This is what a community is. It's that psycholical feeling of being a part of something unique (and special). We need to talk more about it and engage in activities designed to increase this sense of community.