In the real world, communities have historically formed around geography (e.g. neighbourhood), common interests (e.g. politics) and common situations (e.g. parenthood). The good news is that the digital world is part of the real world. So, online communities similarly form around geography, common interests and common situations.

There is a common belief about online communities that simply creating a gathering place is enough to attract and engage participants. That common belief has caused many a disappointment.

Online communities, perhaps more so than those in-person, require “connectors” (sometimes called administrators or leaders) who can invest the time to generate valuable activity, initiate conversation, monitor and respond to comments, attract fresh contributions and create a sense of belonging to something worthy. For an online community to have appeal, someone has to take ownership of creating and sustaining the momentum that becomes a community.

Online communities are NOT a tally of “Likes”, “Follows” or “Friends”.