How Do You Build An Online Community?

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First generation web communities (Web 1.0) were anchored around gated communities like AOL.  Then they migrated into open communities like GeoCities (which had 38 million user pages before Yahoo! shut it down).  Most of those early communities offered chat rooms and some publishing tools.  Then blogging and social networks exploded.  Perhaps some of these social communities emerged as a result of what was happening on television – specifically Reality TV.  With shows like “Big Brother”, which first aired in 1999 and MTV’s “The Real World”, people were looking to get their 15 minutes of fame.

With that phenomenon came a proliferation of “micro-communities”.  As keyword searches became better, it was easier to find small micro-communities ranging from beauty care and cosmetics ( to sneaker communities (

So how does one build one’s own online community?  First of all, think about what your potential audience might be interested in – relevance.  Are they looking for innovative marketing ideas?  Or are they interested in editorials about a particular subject?  Perhaps they are interested in social media strategies that help build online communities like the people reading this post?

Once you have the “relevance” factor down, then it’s just about the message, the frequency (capturing their mindshare), and getting them engaged in the conversation.  Those are the keys to creating an interactive web community.  And who knows?  Once they trust you, then you can give them a “call to action”.  And most likely, they will respond.

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