Do we have a Community or Audience? What do you think?

(Suzi Nelson) #1

Hi there!

So my company has several product-based communities - the biggest and strongest is for a monthly membership program that offers training and resources. I’m comfortable defining it as a community, as the relationships developed between members grows every single day and I’m so happy with the direction it continues to go.

However, we just launched a beta program - it’s a 10-week certification course with a forum. The forum is divided into 10 topics, so people have a dedicated area to ask questions about the course material for that week. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, since the course has a beginning and end date and people are mainly going there seeking info, is this more of an audience than a community?

I can certainly invest more time into encouraging relationship building between the members, but I am wondering if I should approach this as more of an audience situation.

Any thoughts? I hope my rambling made sense!

(Nick Emmett) #2

Hi @Suzi_Nelson, the first questions that come to my mind are to do with what’s to be gained from either way? What sort of information are people coming for? If it was just a broadcast channel, and people weren’t interacting, nor were they encouraged to interact and engage, then an audience is probably what you have. However, what do you want to get out of it? Do you want people to engage there? If so, then you need to change the behaviour of people from just coming to consume and to engage instead. What would they engage about? What would drive them to do this, and how can you help?

(Suzi Nelson) #3

Great questions!

So the forum is more Q & A as they go through the course with the goal of either A) having the instructor give a little more feedback or B) other students can weigh in and give their ideas. It’s a marketing course, so many of the questions have been “how does this strategy apply to this specific market segment?”

i.e., “I sell refrigerators, how does this strategy apply?” (great for our instructors or veteran students to answer)

… or it’s technical questions that anyone with the right knowledge base & back ground in business & marketing can answer (“what email auto-reponder is best for my situation?”)

This is a beta course, so all of our students are people who are already super familiar with our brand and most of them engaged without any encouragement because they already knew each other. 80% of the questions were technical issues and feedback about the course, but we’re about to scale the crap out of it, so I’m wondering which direction to take it.

These beta students will have lifetime access to the forum platform, with the intent that they can jump in and join in conversations and help the newbies along. I figure a small percentage will do that - they love helping and establishing authority as knowledgable people.

I am also making it a point to get our instructors seriously involved in the forum (that was limited during our beta program) and having them take the initiative to make posts and encourage conversation. Right now it is 99% student-driven.

But for the next release of this course, I believe new students will only have access for the 10 weeks, so I am wondering if we should focus more on instructor Q&A and less on the member-to-member relationship building, since it is, by design, short-term.

(Joe Velez) #4

If your audience are talking / engaging with each other than I would consider it a ‘community’.

If they are merely visiting to ask you and other staff members questions than it’s an audience. It’s a ‘knowledgebase’ of information.