Community vs. social media

Hi, how can community be a fundable priority vs. the incredible reach of social media? OR - do you find that your communities have a comparable audience to your organization’s social media channels?

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it’s not an either/or scenario…you may need both, and they serve different purposes. Imagine the difference between rain watering an entire neighborhood vs catching water in a barrel at your house. You can diffuse your messaging over a wide area, which is good for awareness, or you can concentrate and focus your conversations in a place you can easily access and control (and provide deeper value).


All the major social channels allow you to easily access and control what you post on your organization’s accounts? You can post what you’d like, delete posts you don’t, etc. But the virality and shareability of posts there mean that an audience many times larger than a hosted community can be reached each day (at least, that’s my context).

Unless there’s a large reach to the community itself, then how do you measure and defend the value of concentrated, focused conversations within it?

To give some examples -

If you have a new video and it will reach 50,000 on social and 500 in a community, then the social push is more important.

If you have a new product to sell and you can advertise on social for relatively inexpensive amounts or do a post in the community that will be seen by a few hundred, social is better.


Yes, if you’re strictly talking about brand awareness, social channels are powerful tools. However, that’s not usually the main purpose of an owned community. Those are better for customer support/retention, communications that require privacy (like influencer or team messaging or discussions that touch on personal subjects), or knowledge-building/sharing where you want to collect and share a focused set of information (having it in one place makes it easier to search and contributes to SEO for your main website).

That’s just the 1 minute response…obviously there are lots of things that could weigh into a decision to use social vs a hosted community.

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As mentioned by @rhogroupee, they serve different purposes, and audiences. Social media is not actually for everyone and you would probably be surprised by the number of people who might not even have a social account, and even if they do, they are not using it for business activities.

An owned Community is something that you will have full control of as well. So the entire look and feel can be customized to suit the needs of your customer base. Where social, it can be hard to create an “on-brand” experience for your customers. Also, most Communities offer the ability for social sharing.

Though, again, really depends on the need that you are trying to meet. :slight_smile:

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It entirely depends on your goals, which it sounds like you’ve already answered for yourself.

You are looking for reach and audience size. In that case, social media would be your tool.

Keep in mind that those are engagement numbers, fairly artificial, and shouldn’t be applied to owned communities. Its falling into the engagement trap. In an owned community, you want to measure the number of new resources that were shared, the number of question and answers that were resolved, the number of clients who upgraded to the next level, the events that deepened relationships with your top clients. You also want an owned community because you want to customize the user journey, to control the user and profile data, and you want to build a repository of best in class information build over time. Social media is incredibly weak / unavailable in those regards.

You run an owned community for entirely different reasons than running a social media account.


depends on how you look at it. If only for awareness yes.
But depending on the goal you have 500 people that are really interested in your company, your products and what you have to say are so much more worth than 5000 random people who might follow your social account but are not really interested in the brand.

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Thank you for your insights. This helped me clarify my focus.

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