Everyone interested in finding persons with similar interests are building, creating, designing,and evolving an online community. Wikipedia defines online communities as:
“A virtual community, e-community or online community is a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as newsletters, telephone, email, online social networks or instant messages rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes. If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. Virtual and online communities have also become a supplemental form of communication between people who know each other primarily in real life. Many means are used in social software separately or in combination, including text-based chatrooms and forums that use voice, video text or avatars. Significant socio-technical change may have resulted from the proliferation of such Internet-based social networks.“
There are hundreds and maybe thousands of online communities. In fact, a site I used to read years ago, The Well, is still alive and has been since 1985. For a glance at some of the virtual communities, Wikipedia has this list.
I have investigated many communities over the past year and have generally found them to be as wide-ranging as we are unique. One of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin (who cofounded Squidoo), believes “what’s important is that it is now common, and will soon be expected that every….person will have a media platform where they share what they care about with the world.”
Many communities created by and for large companies can cost $1,000,000.00. Also I have found several blogs that evaluate how much online community managers make (generally from $60,000.=$100,000). Check out these sources: Connie Bensen and the online community report.
Why are companies investing this money? Because the old forms of getting and keeping customers isn’t working anymore. Customers no longer want to do business with companies whose only interest in them is how much money the company can make.