Online communities form because they have an internal need or in reaction to an external event. By identifying your community type, it will help you develop your marketing plans, budgets and capabilities to best engage with the community.
4 Key Takeaways:
- Understand why your community would form.
- Use it well or lose it!
- Members are on a mission, know their mission.
- Know where to spend your budget.
About Noreen Henry:
Noreen is a technology lecturer on the Mayo campus of GMIT since January 2000.
With a background in software and technology management she has in recent years pivoted into the area of Social Web Strategy and educational areas such as Learning and Innovation Skills.
She co-delivers the Marketing Strategy Theory and Application module on the Springbaord funded Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Media & Marketing.
Contacting Noreen Henry:
By Noreen Henry
There are two reasons why a community will form online:
1. Because they want to, they have an internal need. These are referred to as passion communities.
2. Because they are driven to, in reaction to an external event these are trigger event communities. (Hlavac, 2014, pp. 12-14)
If you understand why your community should form, what they seek and how they engage with peers, influencers and experts, you will be positioned to build your social strategies.
A Passion Community Defined: Is one that contains highly focused brand and lifestyle advocates often on a third-party (one which you have no control over) website that the brand does not manage. This is a high-intensity group, containing members that pose opportunities to engage with influencers, but also risks of brands being unable to manage in a scalable manner. The most engaged members of these communities, we will refer to as Passionistas. (Owyang, 2012)
Passion communities address topics members care passionately about. They want to hear from the influencers who identify key trends. But, they also want to talk to their peer to express and hone their opinions. As a business, you will want to engage members by giving them the newest content and ample opportunities to have peer to peer engagements.
Passion communities are permanent communities with stable members, who are always interested in looking for new trends and information.
To enable a successful passion community:
• Have opportunities for peer to peer engagements.
• Keep information current and on the cutting edge.
• Ability to interact with influencers and experts.
• To hone and validate their opinions.
If you engage or create a passion community but don’t keep it current and on trend, you will lose your members quickly.
Passion communities have permanent members so once we acquire them, we can keep them if we give them a reason to stay and engage. This means you can minimize your acquisition budget once we acquire members. But need to spend more on new content and new ways to engage.
Trigger event communities are the exact opposite.
A Trigger Event community forms to support individuals during a life change (for example having children, going through divorce) or social events (such as #blacklivesmatter and #bringbackourgirls) that touch people while they are happening but are bound in a certain point in time.
Permanent communities with temporary members, created to address a life stage change or external event. The knowledge they seek will change as they move from the start to the finish of a trigger event e.g., planning a wedding, retirement, pregnancy. If you can help them achieve their goals they will welcome you into their community.
Members are on a mission to accomplish something. They want proven information and tools to help them achieve their community mission. They are on a journey (possibly your customer journey!). You need to be able to identify where they are in their journey and get them the information they need to accomplish it. Your objective is to help them move from where they currently are to their destination. If you help them, they will keep coming back.
Your acquisition budget should tip the content budget because you can reuse content as your community members traverse their journey but once they have accomplished their goal they will naturally move on therefore you need to have a constant supply of new members.
Regardless of the type of community you have, you need to be the trusted expert within the community. You need to provide reliable content, information and guidance highly relevant to your community.
By identifying the community type, it will help us develop our marketing plans, budgets and capabilities to best engage with the community.
Brudner, E. (2017, 08 28). 30 Types of Sales Trigger Events and How to Track Them. Retrieved from Hubspot:
Hlavac, R. (2014). Social IMC – socail Strategies with Bottom-Line ROI. Nort Charleston: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Owyang, J. (2012, 10 18). Breakdown: A Strategy for Engaging Passion Communities. Retrieved from Jeremiah Owyang: