We came across this article last week about defining your online community to higher ups, and it resonated because people mean a lot of different things when they use the word community. As the article so aptly states, it is hard sometimes to understand if you are “referring to the online community at large, the community of people that your organization interacts with online, or an online community where your customers, employees, or partners can engage one another and support your customers or members.”
And we are guilty of adding to this confusion with our ecosystem…for sure. So we wanted to explain further and learn more about how others refer to the different circles within their ecosystems.
Connection – someone who is part of our online community at large – our blog readers, Twitter followers, Facebook likers, Linked In group participants. You may interact with us, you may simply read along. But you are part of our community at large. Thanks for hanging out and learning with and from us online!
Friend – Those who have raised their hands to interact with us more formally by either subscribing to our free monthly newsletter or participating in our research. As a thank you for all that you do you get more information, get that information sooner and sometimes we can even pass along special discounts on conferences and programs to you.
Member – Member is a special title as it’s reserved for those in TheCR Network. These members have paid an annual fee ($995), take part in regularly scheduled strategic, tactical & professional development roundtable programs, interact online with their fellow members to ask/answer the many questions that come with managing a community, and may also take part in our research, speak at conferences with us, or hire us to do more intensive advisory work with their executives or community teams.
As we grow and as membership in TheCR Network continues to grow, we are learning as we go, just as many of you are. There is no clear “right” way to organize your ecosystems – thanks for weighing in and helping us figure it out as well. What does your ecosystem look like?