This is an excerpt from MarketerHire's weekly newsletter, Raisin Bread. To get a tasty marketing snack in your inbox every week, subscribe here.
For months, we’ve been wondering what marketers mean when they say “community”— which they do a lot.
Short answer: It’s fuzzy.
In theory, we’ve learned, communities are enduring social hubs where members can meet new people who are somehow “like them.” But what does that mean in practice?
This week, we asked three experts to weigh in on whether various digital and IRL social hubs are or aren’t communities.
- Ethan Brooks, former North American community lead at Toptal
- Junae Brown, founder of Browned 2 Perfection, a marketing agency that emphasizes community-building
- April MacLean, community manager at The Hustle’s paid community, Trends
Is Twitter a community?
👍 vs. 👎 👎
Brooks: Yes. Twitter is actually optimized for person-to-person connection.
Brown: No, but Twitter is full of communities that effortlessly form and flow together.
Is Facebook a community?
👍 vs. 👎 👎
Brooks: Yes, although a weak one, since it’s so large. You wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker just because you’re both Facebook users.
MacLean: No. People are there, but it feels disconnected.
Is a condo building a community?
👍 vs. 🤷♀️ vs. 👎
Brooks: If people argue over the cost of trimming the hedges, it’s a community.
Brown: It’s only a community if the condo hosts activities that bring people together to celebrate similarities.
MacLean: No. It’s siloed people in the same building.
Is a Slack channel for anime fans a community?
👍 👍 👍
Brown: Yes! It’s tailored to a very unique group of people with a common interest.
MacLean: Yes. Although I did hesitate. A common interest forms a community, but that’s not enough to sustain one.
Is an office community?
🤷♀️ 🤷♀️ 🤷♀️
Brown: Not necessarily. The people there just want income for doing a specific thing. Community might exist in departments, though, or in extra-curricular groups for employees, like yoga club.
Is Clubhouse a community?
🤷♀️ 🤷♀️ vs. 👎
Brooks: Clubhouse is a brawl.
Brown: If it is hosted consistently. Otherwise, it is simply a gathering of minds that may or may not be alike.
MacLean: I’ve been in plenty of Clubhouse rooms where no one would ever remember what was said or who was there. I’m not sure that’s a community.
There’s not a lot of consensus, but whether a group is a community seems to depend on:
- Group size
- Shared interests
- Frequency of memorable interactions
- 1,000 X-factors
Want to know more about what communities are — and why marketers love them?
Check out this post with more insights from Brown and Brooks →
Responses have been condensed and edited.