10 Examples of Successful Online Communities You Can Learn From
Examples of online communities – “In just a few short years, the internet has transformed from a mere luxury to a virtual lifeline—and online communities have become the unsung heroes propelling this digital revolution forward. Today, we’re diving into 10 jaw-dropping examples of successful online communities that have sparked inspiration, fostered connections, and even revolutionized entire industries. So buckle up, prepare to be amazed, and most importantly—take notes for your own online community-building journey!”
Our website features several examples of successful online communities, including Sephora’s Beauty Insider community, Kate Baker’s Veterinary Cytology Coffeehouse Facebook group, and Reddit’s r/AskReddit community. These communities have a strong sense of engagement, offering members the ability to connect with like-minded individuals, share knowledge and ideas, and foster a greater sense of belonging. Each one serves as an excellent example of what can be accomplished when an online community is formed around shared interests or values.
Examples of Successful Online Communities
Online communities have become increasingly popular over the years. They provide a space for people to come together with shared interests, passions, and goals. In this section, we will explore ten examples of successful online communities that offer unique strategies and demonstrate the power of community building.
Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community:
Sephora has created an online community for its customers to share their love for beauty products. The Beauty Insider Community provides a space for users to write reviews, share makeup looks, ask questions, and engage in conversations related to beauty. Members can earn rewards points for participating in the community which can be redeemed for products.
GitHub is an online platform where software developers can collaborate on projects. It has a very active community of users who contribute code, open issues, and engage in discussions related to software development. The GitHub Community Forum has various categories for different topics like feature requests, bugs, and general discussion. The forum also hosts events like hackathons and meetups where members can meet in person.
Duolingo Language Learning Community:
Duolingo is a platform that offers free language learning courses. Its online community focuses on connecting learners with each other so they can practice their new skills with native speakers or other learners. The Duolingo forums are organized by language course where users can ask questions about grammar or vocabulary, post practice exercises, or share their progress.
Not only do these communities provide great opportunities for networking but they also promote user engagement with the brand or product.
Kate Baker’s Veterinary Cytology Coffeehouse Facebook Group:
Kate Baker is a veterinary pathologist who hosts lectures and webinars on cytology (the study of cells). She also created a Facebook group called the Veterinary Cytology Coffeehouse where fellow veterinary professionals can discuss cytology cases, ask questions, and share knowledge. The community encourages active participation and has become a go-to space for professionals in this specific field.
The Minimalists Community:
The Minimalists is a movement that promotes the idea of living with less to find freedom and fulfillment. Their online community provides a space for people to share their own experiences with minimalism, ask questions, and seek advice. They also organize meetups around the world where members can connect and live out their minimalist values together.
While it’s easy to see the benefits of online communities from these examples, there are also some potential downfalls when it comes to managing them. Moderation and user behavior should be taken into consideration for building a safe and positive community.
Reddit’s r/AskReddit Community:
Reddit has countless online communities dedicated to any topic you can think of. One popular example is the r/AskReddit community where users can ask or answer any question as long as it follows certain guidelines. Users who break the rules often face consequences like getting banned or having their posts removed. This strict moderation allows the community to remain civil and beneficial for all members.
These communities provide not only networking opportunities but also valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences.
ASOS Insider Community:
ASOS is a fashion retailer that created an online community called ASOS Insider for its most loyal customers. Members get exclusive access to sales, early product releases, giveaways, styling tips from other members, and more. They also receive invitations to events hosted by ASOS where they can meet other Insiders in person.
Yelp Elite Squad Community:
Yelp is a review website where users rate local businesses based on their experiences. The Yelp Elite Squad is an invite-only program that rewards particularly active reviewers with exclusive perks like tickets to events, free food tastings, and other discounts. Members are encouraged to attend events and meet other Elite Squad members to strengthen the community.
Successful online communities are like gardens that require nurturing, pruning, and growth. The more the community is fed with new content, engaging conversations, and opportunities to connect, the more it will thrive.
Now that we’ve explored some examples of successful online communities, let’s focus on one type in particular: brand communities.
Brand communities are created when a company or brand establishes an online presence where consumers can connect with each other and engage with the brand. These communities create a powerful emotional connection between members and the brand or product. In this section, we will delve into how successful brand communities operate and what strategies they use to foster brand loyalty.
Harley-Davidson Owners Group:
Harley-Davidson has created an online community for motorcycle enthusiasts called the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G). Members can connect with others who share their passion for motorcycles, participate in group rides, attend events, and even receive discounts on Harley products. The H.O.G community fosters a deep sense of loyalty among its members who are proud to be associated with the iconic Harley brand.
Brand communities provide companies with valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences which allows them to tailor their products or services to better suit their customers’ needs.
LEGO Ideas Community:
LEGO is a toy manufacturer that has created an online community where fans and customers can submit their own ideas for new LEGO sets. Members can comment on each other’s ideas, vote for their favorites, or even create collaborative projects. This not only allows LEGO to tap into its passionate fanbase but also provides them with new product ideas straight from their customers.
While brand communities can be incredibly effective at building loyal customers it’s important to note that not every brand is suitable for this type of community. Brands should do their research and consider whether a branded community aligns with their values, mission statement, and target audience.
Starbucks’ My Starbucks Idea:
Starbucks has created an online community called My Starbucks Idea where customers can share ideas about products or services they would like to see at Starbucks. Members can vote on each other’s suggestions, provide feedback, and even get updates on the company’s actions based on the community’s suggestions. This gives customers an opportunity to feel heard and valued by a large corporation like Starbucks.
GoPro User Community:
GoPro is a camera manufacturer that created an online community for its users called the GoPro User Community. Members can submit photos and videos they’ve taken with their GoPro cameras, share tips and tricks, participate in challenges, and interact with each other. This community creates a sense of camaraderie among its members who are all passionate about capturing life’s adventures on camera.
Brand communities are just one type of online community entrepreneurs can utilize to grow their brand and foster customer engagement. In the next section, we’ll explore unique strategies that successful online communities use to keep their members engaged and grow their communities even further.
- A study published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing in 2022 revealed that brand communities, a type of online community, can increase customer engagement by up to 63%, strengthening brand loyalty and driving revenue growth.
- According to research conducted by Pew Research Center, as of 2021, nearly 36% of Internet users aged 18-29 participate in online discussion forums or message boards, highlighting the prevalence of interest-based and social online communities among younger generations.
- In a study by the International Journal of Information Management published in 2020, it was found that active participation in learning communities led to a significant increase in knowledge retention and application rates of up to 20%, emphasizing the value of these types of online communities for personal growth and development.
Learning communities are online spaces that serve as forums for learners to collaborate, deepen their understanding of course material and work towards common goals. These types of communities are perfect for course creators and entrepreneurs whose brands rely on knowledge-based content or learning experiences. Learning communities can provide a space for supporting customers through their learning journey and enhancing the learning experience. Here are some ways in which successful learning communities maximize learner engagement.
Take, for example, Udemy’s community page, where learners can share feedback and reviews on various courses with others. The platform also offers a discussion board where learners can ask questions and get answers from experts or other learners who have already completed a certain course. This type of interaction enhances the learning experience as learners can gain insights from others’ perspectives.
Additionally, many learning communities incorporate a mentorship element where experienced users or graduates offer advice and support to new members. Mentorship is increasingly recognized as an effective way to improve learner motivation, confidence and assist with success in challenging subjects.
However, some argue that too much reliance on mentors may take away from the independent nature of learning. They may assert that such an approach could create a culture of dependency where people give up quickly without trying to figure out solutions individually.
Ultimately, the key to creating a successful learning community lies in flexibility, customization and timely support/help from fellow learners or experts.
Interest communities are online spaces gathering people who share specific hobbies or passions around topics people are truly passionate about. Entrepreneurs often link their specialized brand to such groups, adding more value by engaging individuals through shared interests or passions. Let’s dive deeper into how interest communities function.
A well-known Facebook group “Humans of New York” typically includes posts telling stories shared by random people across New York City as submitted by branded photographers. While the group has evolved, it began as an interest community where people who highly enjoy and appreciate photography and storytelling were encouraged to share stories and events about their work or experiences within New York City.
Think of interest communities as building blocks for entrepreneurs to connect with their audience by tapping into their hobbies, interests or passions. Similarly, Legos are building blocks that you can use to construct anything you want within your understanding; businesses can use these interest groups to construct a culture bringing together a passionate community.
Moreover, these communities allow customers genuinely interested in an entrepreneur’s story to interact with others who relate to them on a personal level. Such dynamics boost engagement rates, foster confidence and eventually encourage followers to spread the word even more.
However, some detractors argue that interest communities may also create messaging echo chambers where brands only speak to people supporting their cause or interested in it. This may limit any potential brand awareness beyond the group itself.
Nonetheless, one should carefully consider how joining or creating an online interest community works towards the company’s core mission while benefiting both involved parties. With careful planning and targeted marketing strategies, entrepreneurs can fully benefit from building strong interest communities capable of generating increased public awareness towards themselves.
Unique Strategies of Online Communities
Successful online communities are more than just a group of people sharing common interests. They require unique strategies to stand out and foster engagement that will keep members coming back. One strategy is to provide exclusive access to content, deals, and events. This creates a sense of community that members are eager to be part of. It also provides an incentive to engage with others in the community, thereby increasing overall interaction.
One example of this strategy is Sephora’s Beauty Insider community. Members have access to a plethora of benefits such as early access to products, invitations to exclusive events, personalized recommendations based on their preferences and past purchases, and so much more. This keeps them engaged and interested in the brand even when they’re not in the store.
Another strategy is to incorporate gamification techniques into the community experience. Gamification is the use of game design elements like points systems and leaderboards in non-game contexts to increase engagement, participation, and loyalty. For instance, Duolingo uses daily goals, badges for achievements, and a streak counter that rewards users for consecutive days of language learning. These simple but effective game mechanics drive user behavior towards desired actions like completing lessons on time or practicing speaking exercises.
Additionally, content curation is another compelling strategy used by successful online communities. Content curation is organizing hand-picked content from various sources around a particular theme or topic in one place for easy consumption by the community members.
For example, StandOut Authority Facebook Group created by Daniel Munro curates industry-specific news articles into daily digests for its members from all over the world. By collecting information relevant to the group’s core interests into an easily accessible format each day, this creates value for group members while fostering conversation around relevant topics.
However, some experts argue that strict moderation is necessary for successful online communities. Moderation refers to the monitoring and regulating of user-generated content to ensure it aligns with the community guidelines and values. The debate stems from the belief that moderation can stifle discourse and active conversation in a community, often resulting in fewer posts but higher-quality interactions.
Others argue that stricter moderation is better for preventing toxic behavior like hate speech or trolling which may drive away members who want to feel comfortable while engaging in productive conversations.
Regardless of the strategies used, engagement techniques play an essential role in keeping online communities active and thriving.
- To create a successful online community, it is important to go beyond shared interests and use strategies that foster engagement and loyalty. These strategies include providing exclusive access to content, deals, and events, incorporating gamification techniques, curating content, and utilizing moderation to prevent toxic behavior. By implementing these engagement techniques, online communities can create a sense of belonging among members and drive greater interaction and participation.
One of the most important engagement techniques is to foster connections between members. Online communities provide individuals with a space to connect and engage with others who share common interests or goals. Encouraging regular interaction between members is vital for fostering a sense of community and keeping people engaged.
One successful example of this technique’s implementation is Glossier’s Into The Gloss blog. The company has created an entire lifestyle brand around beauty and self-care by encouraging readers to participate actively in their content through comments and social media sharing. They also meet up regularly with readers in cities around the world, so readers get a chance to connect face-to-face.
Another key engagement technique is member-generated content. Member-generated content empowers contributors by giving them control over sharing their knowledge or expertise with others. It also provides fresh perspectives on topics that may not have been explored otherwise.
For instance, LinkedIn Elevate is a program designed specifically for companies. It encourages employees to share industry insights, news stories, and thought leadership pieces on LinkedIn, allowing them to amplify their reach while demonstrating expertise on topics relevant to their professional lives.
Engaging people’s senses is another effective way of getting your audience involved. We retain more information when multiple senses are stimulated at once rather than relying on just one or two methods of communication.
Take, for example, a cooking community. A cooking community could use images of users’ finished recipes, the sound of chopping onions in a video, as well as descriptive copy to describe aromas and flavors, to create an immersive experience that engages all the senses.
Implementing engagement techniques such as fostering connections between members, member-generated content, and engaging the senses can help your online community become more active and thriving.
One of the main objectives of building an online community is to grow it over time. More members typically mean more engagement, meaning a higher likelihood for generating leads and sales. Here are some tactics that successful online communities employ to achieve growth.
Cross-Promotion: Cross-promotion involves partnering with another organization or community with similar values and interests. For example, if you’re running an online community for photographers, you might partner with an online community for graphic designers. This can be done through guest blogging, sharing posts on social media, mentions in email newsletters, or hosting collaborative events like webinars.
Social Advertising: Social advertising can help your community get noticed by a broader audience. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer advertising options that allow you to reach very specific audiences based on interests, demographics, and behaviors.
Viral Content Marketing: Viral content marketing involves creating high-quality content (such as blog posts, videos, or infographics) that is shared widely and rapidly. While viral content can lead to vast amounts of traffic and buzz, there is no guaranteed formula for creating viral content.
Giveaways & Contests: Giveaways and contests can help generate buzz around your brand or product and attract new members to your community. They could be something straightforward like a free download or something more substantial like a giveaway of products or services.
These are just a few examples of growth tactics employed by successful online communities. Let’s now take a look at some lessons learned from these communities.
Lessons Learned from Online Communities
Online communities have become increasingly prevalent in today’s digitally focused world. Whether it’s providing support forums for people undergoing tough medical treatments sought out information on urban gardening, there is an immense amount of value in building such virtual spaces where common interests converge.
Members are the Core: One of the most important lessons that successful online communities teach us is that community members are the core. Successful online communities center around users, rather than brands or products. They exist to serve their members, not the other way around.
Communicate Effectively: Clear communication is vital to developing and keeping a healthy online community. Where communication is poor, you may have team members missing deadlines or working on the wrong tasks, leading to an unproductive project. In contrast, effective communication will ensure all eyes on your team staying focused and pulling in the same direction.
Vigilance is Key: Another key lesson learned from successful online communities is that vigilance is key. Whether it’s moderating user-generated content or quickly identifying and addressing issues with spam or trolling, communities must be vigilant in providing a positive experience for their members.
Controversy isn’t Always Bad: The idea of controversy can scare brands away from building and engaging with communities where sensitive issues arise, but controversy doesn’t always have to result in negative associations. One of the valuable things about online communities is they provide opportunities to navigate situations that involve controversy productively.
There are numerous lessons to learn from successful online communities, ranging from best practices in communication strategies to effective growth tactics that will help you grow your online community effectively.
Building Your Own Online Community
Now that we have explored successful examples of online communities, it’s time to think about building your own. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to create a space for customers to connect or a knowledge-based professional interested in enhancing the learning experience for your audience, building an online community can be a powerful tool.
One option is to start small and establish a presence on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. This allows you to start engaging with potential community members and building brand recognition without investing too much time initially. From there, consider creating a website or forum specific to your community’s interests where members can interact with each other and find valuable resources related to your brand.
It’s important to keep in mind that building a successful online community takes effort and time. Consistency is key; keep your community engaged with relevant content and meaningful interaction. Consider sharing exclusive content, running contests or giveaways, and hosting events both online and offline to foster deeper connections within your community.
Building an online community is like growing a garden – it requires consistent nurturing, patience, and attention to detail. You need to plant the right seeds, water them regularly and provide them with proper care to grow strong roots. Similarly, in an online community, you need to provide your members with thoughtful engagement opportunities, interesting discussions, resources they need to learn or thrive in their passion-topic along with empathetic moderation.
You may also want to consider the size of your online community. Some believe that bigger is always better when it comes to online communities since this implies more engagement and connection. However, many successful communities are smaller but highly engaged groups of enthusiasts passionate about what they discuss or buy at the parent site. Members of smaller niches often feel more personally connected because they feel seen and heard by others who share similar ideas.
Take, for example, the interest-based community created around hiking and camping gear by Huckberry. Instead of striving for hundreds of thousands of members who superficially interact with each other, they have chosen to keep their community focused on a specific theme in order to create a tight-knit group of people passionate about spending quality time outdoors.
Building your own online community can be a powerful way to bring together like-minded individuals, enhance brand loyalty, and grow your business. By keeping your focus on consistency, relevant content and meaningful engagement, you can cultivate a group of engaged members who will support your efforts and spread the word on your behalf.