Do You Know The Difference Between Community Building and Audience Building?

Chris Brogan says, “The difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing.”

My friend Jennifer Windrum of WTF? for Lung Cancer and SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer knows what it’s like to build a community. She has painfully shared the ups and downs of her and her (nonsmoking) mother’s journey of a lung cancer diagnosis. But many marketers have no idea. They think that getting more ‘likes’ and more fans or followers is building a community, when in fact, that’s more like building an audience.

Matthew Grant over at MarketingProfs recently spoke to Becky McCray, author of Small Town Rules (for entrepreneurs), about how she characterizes community vs audience. Becky says:

If you are thinking of it in terms of getting more people to listen to you, rounding up more followers, getting more “likes,” you’re thinking ‘audience.’ If you are thinking about connecting them, learning about them, hearing from them individually, and you’re thinking of people, then you are getting a lot closer to community building.

Audiences are people you sell and market to or as some would say, they are your demographic. They are the people who are interested in what you have to say. But communities are different. Communities know one another. They look to each other for guidance and advice. They interact with one another online and feel like their contributions matter.

For example, drivers of JEEP vehicles have a secret wave when they pass one another. And users of Apple products feel a kinship toward one another and help one another out when having technical difficulties. These are communities.

All communities have one or a few leaders usually. I call them helpers. These are your bread and butter. These people feel empowered by you and the rest of the community and are willing to spread the word about your product or service. They’re your brand evangelists who you need to nurture and empower on and off-line.

Do you agree?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is a social media consultant, strategist, and analyst.

Comments

  1. Yes I certainly agree. Developing “believers” who are constantly reading your materials are the keys to building the community.

  2. Tracy!

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder!

    Anyone who has built a community or ‘tribe’ deserves huge congrats and kudos for creating a space in which brand evangelists feel empowered to lead and share the voice of the brand.

    I am aspiring for community… and am grateful for the brave souls who love sharing the LOVE. But given the taboo nature of my topic… I’m good with audiences and lurkers! :D

    Cheers!

    @AndeLyons
    http://www.BringBackDesire.com

  3. Absolutely spot on! As a community architect I can tell you that successful community is all about the people, and that is something companies and brands must plan carefully.