I have been saying for a very, very long time (back in 2001 I wrote a research note for Gartner, and in 2003 Michael Maoz and I spoke about this already at the conferences… and, oh yeah – in the late 1980s when I was moderating Compuserve forums I gave an interview for PCWeek about them – and I am sure there’s more, but you are bored of hearing me say how awesome I am — even though I am) that communities are the end goal for business.
The real power of the social networks is not the ability to share kitten pictures or news or baby pictures with people we loathed in high school but love now. The power is the power of aggregating people of kin minds into communities.
Moving communities from offline to online is the greatest trick ever pulled by the internet. We moved from an average of 12 communities participation per person in 2002 (just 4 online) to 48 communities participation per person (26 online).
The aggregation of power and knowledge (the reason for communities to exist) go back to the caves of Altamira and the fires that gathered people around to share stories (thanks Fred Studer for that image, well done).
I recently had a google hangout interview / webinar / something-else-you-want-to-call-it with my friend Sheridan Gaenger of Helpshift to talk about communities and how they are changing businesses. We talked for a while, and it was one of the greatest conversations about communities I recall from recent years.
Pay a listen to it, or read the blog post that Sheridan wrote about it. If you are interested in communities you will not be disappointed.
When you are done, come back and talk to me about your thoughts please. I’d love to know what you are doing and thinking in regards to communities.
disclosure: Helpshift was a client once some time ago. I also sit in the board of advisers and own equity in the company as a result of this relationship (and, no, did not get paid to do this). The interesting thing though, HelpShift does not sell community software, nor do they benefit if you implement or use communities. Its part of the power of communities: spark conversations that broaden the topics you are interested in, watch what happens. Inbound. Funny...
Image via flickr