Defining Community

New definitions you should know

Usually, when people speak about community, they refer to an already existing group of people gathered around a project or a product, or to a local community united by specific characteristics (i.e. nationality, religion, etc.). But community definition, especially in business, is broader, because it includes other components to consider. And each of these components can change its status over time.

In this article, we will see the traditional definition of community and the new one provided by OpenExO, that leads to better understanding of people around your business idea.

Terms that everyone knows

Let’s start with the common community definition you can find in a dictionary: 

  • the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group, or nationality.
  • on social media, a group of people who have similar interests or who want to achieve something together.
  • a group of people who have the same interests, religion, etc.

So, a community refers to a group of people who share a common interest, goal, or location and who interact with one another regularly.

Members of a community often have a sense of belonging and shared identity. They may have a sense of responsibility and commitment to one another, and work together towards a common purpose. 

Your peers at a Saturday cooking class in a culinary school are a tiny community with a common interest in cooking. People who attend a local church and actively participate in church life are also a small community. 

An audience, on the other hand, refers to a group of people who are gathered or reached by a message, such as a performance, presentation, or advertisement. The audience may have some common characteristics, but they may not necessarily interact with one another or share a common identity. 

In summary, a community is a group of people who interact and share a sense of identity and purpose, while an audience is a group of people who receive a message or communication but may not necessarily interact with one another or share a common identity. 

These definitions are suitable for a general idea of community and people around it, but for business they may not be enough clear. 

New view on Community from Exponential Organizations

In OpenExO framework that lies in our core principles, we speak about Community & Crowd attribute. 

What’s Community according to OpenExO? 

It is “made up of a large global group of individuals who are passionate about your Massive Transformative Purpose and are directly involved in the main functions of your organization. They are loyal to a shared goal and devoted to solving the grand challenges surrounding your organization’s purpose.

Communities are cohorts of individuals with whom the company has a relationship. This includes customers, fans, vendors, partners, suppliers and alumni of the organization.  Often these individuals have a special bond with the company — and that may make them willing to donate time, expertise and even money to make and keep the company successful”.  

As you may see, this community definition includes diverse components, or stakeholders, which previously were not even considered as a community itself. 

Crowd is everyone else outside the Community. Let’s define them as people who do not have a relationship with the organization, but potentially can be motivated by reward or interest to participate in a way that is valuable and meaningful to the organization. 

Remember: crowds are the backbone of your community. People from this component can change their status one day and become active members of your community once they understand what you and your project are aiming for and see the benefits of staying with you. 

Why can new definition "Community & Crowd" be useful for you?

The modern definition of Community is broader than the old one and includes components, or stakeholders, that previously were not considered as a part of community at all.

For example, fans were defined as audience, while now they are a valuable part of community and need a specific strategy to interact with. Suppliers existed as an absolutely different part out of both community and audience approach. 

Nowadays, Community has diverse membership tiers that require diverse reaching and communication strategies. It’s richer than it was, and permit Crowds enter whatever tier they believe suits better their needs, interests, and competences. 

Here’s a simple example: you, the reader, who found occasionally our site and this article, is a part of our Crowd. But once you see the benefits of following us, subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll become a Fan, which is the part of Community. And when you enter a space dedicated to community (LinkedIn group or Discord), you’ll become an active member, able to co-create with us. 

All of this leads to inclusion of diversity in membership tier, may help understand better needs of community members and their expertise, collaborate with them to upscale your project and attract more crowds. 

P.S. Does semantics matter?

Innovators, disruptors, and managers sometimes tend to use various terms to describe the same phenomenon in business. If you ask whether semantics (the “name” of terms) matter, we can reply that you can use any term, name and definition that fits better to your business idea till you are able distinguish them and organize strategies accordingly. 

We decided to adopt the term “Community & Crowd” for How To: Community because we aim to deliver exponential knowledge and solutions to our customers, and it requires a fresh point of view.