Creating Community | WebReference

Creating Community

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Creating Community

By Dr. Travis Meeks (docfox@prodigy.net)

"Man seeketh in society, comfort, use, and protection." Sir Francis Bacon, English Philosopher

There is a vital and growing idea that should be at the core of every Web site success and in a sense may very well already be there if one examines key aspects of that success. One of the core values to success is community. Creating community online is often given too little support when looking at Web site success. While the power of our technology has certainly rendered new techniques and dazzling displays for driving customers to our Web sites it has many times outstripped the important concept of creating online communities around our successful Web sites. Creating these communities is far more than just another tactic in the continuing struggle to draw hits on the Web site counter, it is a creative process, an interactive process that allows for a greater whole out of the individual parts. It is synergy in action.

In the broader sense of the word Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines synergism as "a mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts)." The key words in this definition stand out, mutually advantageous, compatibility, as well as the different elements being or providing resources for each other. Guiding your Web site into partnerships with the public who visit the site and guiding the public toward the opportunity of synergy "working together" is a powerful force.

Forging the bonds of community is vital for any ongoing Web concern. People want a sense of community; they want to find comfort in their Web site chat rooms, and support groups, and email forums. They want a sense of security and to "find use" in what you have to offer, as Sir Francis Bacon so eloquently puts it at the beginning of this article. If we look towards the classic sociological definition of people in an area who have interrelationships that satisfy many of their needs, then indeed we have found the master blueprint for building our online communities. Creating that area, that Web site, that chat room, and so much more is creating a place for community to grow; a community that will support your business and interests and provide far more activism if properly cultivated than any gimmick or flashy trick.

Creating community online is a many faceted project extending into a variety of different areas. Four major areas have a tremendous impact in creating your online community with the Web site at the hub:

  1. Creating an online newsletter
  2. Creating your own email forums/discussion groups
  3. Networking articles from your newsletter or writing articles in general that network your material, viewpoint, ideas, or promote your community to other organizations
  4. Develop chat rooms in conjunction with email forums
One of the first areas you can examine what would work well with the already established Web site is the concept of an online newsletter. Indeed some of the material you have posted on different pages of your Web site can be used as a foundation for articles. Creating an online newsletter has become more popular and there are a variety of sites that provide different ways of creating mailing lists and space for you newsletter ( Example: http://www.egroups.com ). The newsletter then becomes the active voice of your Web site, and indeed can be expressed by many different independent authors who will also help promote your idea, product or Web site community through their articles. Indeed many of them might later act as chat facilitators, or moderators for email groups on key subjects.

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Created: February 15, 2001
Revised: February 15, 2001

URL: http://webreference.com/internet/discussion/creating/