Are You Building A Crowd or A Community?

Fans. How many does your company have? How many should you have? Can you have too many?

A rich, thriving community of brand loyalists is every company’s dream. But when companies focus more on the numbers than the message, they end up with a “crowd” rather than the “community” they’re after.

In this panel, Thomas Knoll (Zappos Community Architect — @thomasknoll) discussed how “crowds” differ from true “communities,” what motivates them — and how to turn the crowd you (probably) have now into real believers.

To me, this discussion falls squarely under the header of Connecting People. True communities can only thrive when “fans” are enabled and encouraged to develop two-way communication with your company and other fans.Six ways that crowds differ from communities:

1. Crowds have PRIDE. Communities have PURPOSE.

2. Crowds are looking for BENEFITS. Communities are looking to BELONG.

3. Crowds desire CONNECTION. Communities desire COLLABORATION.

4. Crowds prefer to GET.  Communities prefer to GIVE.

5. Crowds are powered by INSPIRATION. Communities are powered by INFLUENCE.

6. Crowds are sustained by SERVICE. Communities are sustained by STORY.

True communities require that you first provide a purpose to believe in — and then a forum for your fans to communicate, tell stories and influence your company and product.

Building and nurturing a true community isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts. You have to care about people, talk to people and encourage them to talk to one another. Not easy, but worth it.

Panel: “Are Your Customers A Crowd or a Community?”

Presenter: Thomas Knoll (@thomasknoll)

Panel hashtag: #octribe

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