In his early work, ‘A Slice of Life in My Virtual Community’, U.S. critic, writer, and teacher Howard Rheingold described on-line communities (or ‘virtual communities’, as he called them) as ‘cultural aggregations that emerge when enough people bump into each other often enough in cyberspace.’
He did not say ‘sit down in a meeting and write down a business case’. He said ‘bump into each other’. If you look at their history, many of the web’s most successful on-line communities (and social networks, for that matter) were started by chance – usually by a few people with common interests who found (or built) the right technology to connectwith like-minded souls. On-line communities are not necessarily a place, virtual or otherwise. They are a relationship between members of a group based on mutual interests. A state of mind.
U.K. online community consultant Richard Millington explains in his keynote speech at the CSN Conference in Amsterdam last week that most online communities fail because they were started for the wrong reasons:
- to attract new customers
- Sales & PR
- Short-term thinking
So what are the "right" reasons for an online community to start an online community?
- Great ideas
- New sources of revenue
- Sales leads
More in this slide deck: