Types of Online Communities

Social Media Newsfeeds

Sites such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter show a feed of your latest posts. Friends can comment on them, starting a dialog.

Social Media Pages

Individuals and organizations present a more one-directional page of activity. The page editors begin conversations, and fans respond to the original post and to each other. In many cases, fans can also make posts to the page, but this appears in a separate area. Page editors moderate the conversation, and can delete comments or ban people from commenting.

Video: Facebook Fraud [8:59]

Exploring the possible trouble with paying for Facebook Page likes.

Social Media Groups

Groups of people gather in open or closed groups. Usually, anyone may begin a conversation here. There are usually rules established by the group admin(s). One or more admins manage the group and may step in to direct the tone of a conversation. They may also delete comments or threads, or kick out members.


Blogs are usually separate from social networks sites, written independently. Yet they have some measure of conversation, if they allow comments on the blog posts. Blogs provide ample content to share within the social media environments as well, prompting further reaction and conversation.

Forums/Message Boards

Forums and message boards are usually highly organized collections of conversations. They tend to have a focus, and further break conversations into separate categories.

Chat Rooms

Chat rooms provided synchronous conversations. That is, the comments all participants make appear instantly within a single chat window. These chats are less likely to be moderated—although that is possible—and may or may not be archived.

Brand Communities

Some communities are built by brands either on social networks or on their own websites. These are tailored to conversations about the brand, but the moderation may be more or less flexible as to topic.

Why Do People Join Online Communities?

For Fun and Leisure


To Meet People, Build Relationships


For a Cause


To Solve a Specific Problem




To Inform and To Stay Informed


To Get Hired


To Promote


Why Do Brands Run Online Communities?

Improve Customer Service


Increase Thought Leadership


Build Partnerships for Business Development


Generate Direct Sales


Create Buzz


Handle Public Relations Crises


Starting a New Community

Decide What Type of Community


Define What Your Goals Are


Decide What Your Desired Audience Looks Like


Outline What Reasons This Audience Will Want to Join


Establish Community Rules


Create a Content Strategy


Begin Strategic Partnerships