As social animals we are wired in our brain to create and need community. Do we need online community? The short answer is yes. Wherever people are, there is an opportunity to build and strengthen each other. That’s community.
What is community?
There are so many different layers and types of community. We instinctively build them. We meet a person, discover commonalities, and work together toward a shared goal. Sometimes that goal is life or economic based like in a farming community. Other times, the shared goal is lifestyle based like line dancing groups or vegan chefs.
The wonderful thing about community is that it is inclusive and flowing. We can be members of many communities: vegan line dancing farmers would be members of all of those communities above. Though many communities are interest-based, it doesn’t mean they are exclusive.
“We are all members of many communities (family, work, neighborhood, etc.), and we constantly move in and out of them, depending on the situation. Community is where we find comfort in difficult times.”Riché C. Zamor, Executive Director, Professional Services Division Latin American Health Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
What about online community?
Whether we chat with our neighbor across the street about trash day or see a tweet from our friend in Seattle about a museum, it is still social activity. The local Chamber of Commerce is a community and so is a Twitter chat. Facebook groups, LinkedIn, and your own online forums are all valid communities.
What makes an online community special is the lack of a geographical barriers. We have the opportunity to have shared wisdom, support, and so much more, regardless of where we live.
“No one person ever has all of the answers, and regardless of the amount of Google-fu you may have, consulting with experts is always going to give you better information.”Jen Waak
How do you build community online?
Community is the sense of shared values and goals. But it doesn’t mean they can’t go sour. So often with Facebook Groups and even apps like Nextdoor, there is a lot of complaining and less-than neighborly behavior. So how do you build a good online community?
You build community through conversations. Ask questions. Facilitate discussions. Address issues in a constructive way. “Praise in public and correct in private.” It’s good parenting advice and applies to community building.
Small talk helps relationships grow. Every person that joins your community makes the group stronger. Validate people’s feelings. Communicate with empathy. Think before you type. Remember that it’s a person on the other side of your cell phone.
“It’s dehumanizing to have thousands of people passing through our computer screens, so we do things we’d never do if those people were sitting next to us.”Derek Sivers
Part of what makes any community thrive — online or in person — is mutual respect and moderation. This is the benefit of building your own community online.
Can you build your own online community?
Yes. You can build your own community online. With our free plugin, you have the ability to create your own custom community. PeepSo is a super-light social network that allows you to quickly and effortlessly add a social network right inside your WordPress site. There’s no reason not to try it today.