Community goals and classification

How communities can be classified, what are their goals depending on type, and what are different management approaches.

  • Community building

Communities come in various forms and serve diverse purposes, but they all share some common characteristics. They can be broadly classified into two main categories: internal and external communities. Understanding the differences between these categories is crucial for effective community management.

Internal Communities

Internal communities exist within organizations and can be further divided into subcategories, such as corporate communities (based on departments, professions, or shared interests) and other types (political parties, student organizations, and non-profits). The primary goals of internal communities are to:

  • foster loyalty,
  • retain employees,
  • disseminate information about the organization's mission,
  • influence society,
  • facilitate collective actions.

Take a closer look at corporate and non-profit communities.

Corporate Communities

Corporate communities prioritize the company itself. Employees do not automatically form a community; it requires effort to build and maintain. The role of the community manager is often fulfilled by an internal communicator, employer brand development manager, or similar position. These communities aim to increase employee loyalty and retention, serving as an HR tool.

Non-profit communities

Non-profit communities, such as volunteer organizations, are driven by their mission. A robust motivation system is critical for the success of these communities, and a leader or volunteer coordinator typically assumes the community manager role. The primary goal is to increase the number of followers, and the community serves as an activism tool.

External Communities

External communities are formed outside of organizations and can be classified into three main types:

  1. Professional communities (B2B networks, partners, experts)
  2. Customer-centric communities (brand, project, or product-based)
  3. Lifestyle-based communities (shared views, work, hobbies, neighborhoods)

Professional communities

In professional communities, the focus is on fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking among members who share a common profession or industry. The community manager's role is to facilitate meaningful interactions, provide valuable resources, and create opportunities for professional growth. The primary goals of professional communities are to:

  • promote the exchange of knowledge and best practices among members,
  • enable members to network and collaborate with each other,
  • connect members with industry experts and thought leaders,
  • provide opportunities for members to grow professionally,
  • position the community as a valuable resource for industry information,
  • attract new members and keep current members engaged,
  • boost the reputation and credibility of the profession or industry.

It is essential to prioritize the most relevant goals for the specific professional community and to consistently deliver value to its members. Monetization, while possible through strategies such as sponsored content or events, should be approached cautiously to maintain the integrity and trust within the community. The focus should remain on providing a platform for professionals to connect, learn, and grow together.

Customer communities

When managing customer-centric communities, the focus is on the product and its quality. The community manager's work is closely tied to the company's results and metrics, as the community serves as a marketing tool. These communities can influence key performance indicators such as customer retention, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). The primary goals of customer-centric communities in business are to:

  • promote loyalty,
  • generate PR and word-of-mouth marketing,
  • encourage user-generated content (UGC),
  • provide support,
  • monetize the product,
  • attract new customers,
  • retain existing customers.

It is essential to focus on two or three of these goals rather than trying to achieve all of them simultaneously. Importantly, monetization should be a secondary objective, as community members may react negatively to excessive product promotion.

Lifestyle-based communities

Lifestyle-based communities revolve around connecting people who share similar interests, values, or lifestyles. Whether it's wellness enthusiasts, eco-conscious individuals, parents, or hobbyists, these communities provide a space for like-minded people to come together. The community manager's primary responsibility is to create a welcoming and engaging environment that encourages members to share their stories, insights, and passions. Lifestyle-based communities aim to:

  • make members feel like they're part of a tight-knit family,
  • encourage members to share their stories, tips, and ideas with each other,
  • provide a safe and supportive environment for members to chat and bond,
  • organize fun events and projects that align with what the community is passionate about,
  • team up with cool brands or organizations to offer perks and experiences for members,
  • attract new members who share the same lifestyle or values as the community,
  • create a lively and dedicated community vibe that members love being a part of.

Community classification

Other Classification Factors

In addition to the internal and external classification, communities can be categorized based on other factors, such as:

  • Open or closed
  • Free or paid
  • Free-form or regulated and more...

Understanding the classification of communities is essential for developing effective management strategies. By identifying the type of community and its primary objectives, community managers can adapt their approach to best serve the needs of the members and the organization. The key to successful community management lies in recognizing the unique characteristics of each community and implementing strategies that align with its goals.

Published: Mar 22, 2024