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A community is described as a group of people residing in a specific area and are acknowledged as an entity due to their similar passions according to Cambridge Dictionary. With the advent of internet, the new buzzword seems to be “Online Community” which is defined as a community where communication is accomplished through the internet. Email, discussion boards, websites, etc. are the forums through which an online community thrives. The biggest contrast between online and offline communities is the global reach of the online networks. An internet connection is mandatory for the members of an online community and they could be hailing from any part of the world. Support, social, insight communities are some types of online groups. Social online communities like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are the most popular online factions among the online organizations and this forum is utilized by 93% of large scale firms according to a Social Media Examiner report.
There are 6 vital facets of successful online communities namely culture, transparency, engagement, conversations, value, metrics, etc.
Flourishing groups enhance their own culture, where the members cultivate practices. When the culture is strong, the members tend to visit the community regularly which would motivate them to keep in touch with other members.
Members could identify deceitful contribution easily. Communities should accept negative criticism and the members should be favoured to voice their out their opinions truthfully to concerns.
Engagement could facilitate participation, which in turn transforms to discoveries and crowd sourcing. Discussions through forums and blogs provide opportunities to the system for enhancing the merit of the system.
Sharing, remarking on other’s posts and discussing on several advantages of people’s perspectives would pave the way to other members for responding with comments to questions which are poised by the members on the forum.
A particular value is mandatory for stakeholders within a group to join and contribute with other affiliates. Values provide an overall analysis of the functionalities involved in the community and address the inventions and accomplishments that were a result of interactions within the community.
The community should allow the organization to quantify the Return on Investment through permit to social interactions and discussions. Analytics and acumen could be accumulated through extensive qualitative and quantitative information which could guide and control interactions between people for organizations seeking to involve and handle their representatives.
A Coffee Addict’s Paradise – Barista Exchange
An eminent example of an online community is Barista Exchange. It is an online space with blogging facilities in which baristas, coffee lovers, roasters and suppliers could discuss and converse on topics revolving around coffee. This site amassed nearly 17,000 members within the span of 12 years. Level of faith and reliability is established when people socialize with others online privately. These 2 factors are extremely crucial for coffee industries as it more community-based corporation. This site provides a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs, industry experts, etc. to converse and befriend with upcoming baristas, coffee cultivators and dealers which would be beneficial for both the associates. The site has strategized several prominent approaches for the expansion and prosperity of the forum.
On the platform, there is provision for the members to post pictures, personal data, etc. on their profiles which accentuates the participation of the user. There is also a space for the members to set up groups for their firm’s website or other passions. For example, there is a group for the alumni of American Barista & Coffee School. These subgroups within the site allured a plethora of people to join the forum. There is also a feature for the representatives in the group to post and conduct surveys anonymously. The affiliates could interact with ‘friends of friends’ too in this network.
Barista Exchange has ties with The American Barista & Coffee School, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, and Barista Magazine. There are groups associated to these partners in the website. The network has also partnered with PoachedJobs.com. The website furnishes details about jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industry which would be valuable for the members. This trait strengthens the obligation and allegiance of the users towards the site.
There are other features of Barista Exchange like Supporters Group. It is a paid initiative by concerned people to maintain free service for all the members. People who complete the donation would become a part of an elite group created by the website’s mastermind himself, Matt Milletto. There is also a points system for the members of the site. In addition, high ranked people in the Rankings Leaderboard would get an Award icon displayed on their profiles which changes according to the member’s activity status on the forum.