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Redefining Community: New Definitions for the Modern World

Learn how the concept of community has evolved in the digital age and why it matters for businesses. Discover the new definition of community according to OpenExO and how it can help you build a more diverse and engaged network of stakeholders.

Sasha Sadovnikova
Sasha Sadovnikova

Usually, when people speak about community, they refer to an already existing group of people gathered around a project or a product or to a local community united by specific characteristics (i.e. nationality, religion, etc.).

But the concept of community and audience has evolved over the years with the advent of technology and the internet. Community definition, especially in business, has become broader because it includes other components to consider. And each of these components can change its status over time.

In this article, we will see the traditional definition of community and the new one provided by OpenExO, which leads to a better understanding of the people around your business idea.

Terms that everyone knows

Let’s start with the common community definition you can find in a dictionary:

  • the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group, or nationality.
  • on social media, a group of people who have similar interests or who want to achieve something together.
  • a group of people who have the same interests, religion, etc.

So, a community refers to a group of people who share a common interest, goal, or location and who interact with one another regularly.

Members of a community often have a sense of belonging and shared identity. They may have a sense of responsibility and commitment to one another and work together towards a common purpose.

Your peers at a Saturday cooking class in a culinary school are a tiny community with a common interest in cooking. People who attend a local church and actively participate in church life are also a small community.

An audience, on the other hand, refers to a group of people who are gathered or reached by a message, such as a performance, presentation, or advertisement. The audience may have some common characteristics, but they may not necessarily interact with one another or share a common identity.

In summary, a community is a group of people who interact and share a sense of identity and purpose, while an audience is a group of people who receive a message or communication but may not necessarily interact with one another or share a common identity.

These definitions are suitable for a general idea of community and the people around it, but for business, they may not be enough clear.

New View on Community from Exponential Organizations

In OpenExO framework that lies in our core principles, we speak about Community & Crowd attribute.

What’s Community according to OpenExO?

It is “made up of a large global group of individuals who are passionate about your Massive Transformative Purpose and are directly involved in the main functions of your organization. They are loyal to a shared goal and devoted to solving the grand challenges surrounding your organization’s purpose.
Communities are cohorts of individuals with whom the company has a relationship. This includes customers, fans, vendors, partners, suppliers and alumni of the organization.  Often these individuals have a special bond with the company — and that may make them willing to donate time, expertise and even money to make and keep the company successful”.

As you may see, this community definition includes diverse components, or stakeholders, which previously were not even considered as a community itself.

Crowd is everyone else outside the Community. Let’s define them as people who do not have a relationship with the organization but potentially can be motivated by reward or interest to participate in a way that is valuable and meaningful to the organization.

Remember: crowds are the backbone of your community. People from this component can change their status one day and become active members of your community once they understand what you and your project aim for and see the benefits of staying with you.

Why can the new definition of "Community & Crowd" be useful for you and your business?

The modern definition of Community is broader than the old one and includes components, or stakeholders, that previously were not considered as a part of the community at all.

For example, fans were defined as an audience, while now they are a valuable part of a community and need a specific strategy to interact with. Suppliers existed as an absolutely different part out of both the community and audience approach.

Nowadays, Community has diverse membership tiers that require diverse reaching and communication strategies. It’s richer than it was and permits Crowds to enter whatever tier they believe better suits their needs, interests, and competencies.

All of this leads to the inclusion of diversity in the membership tier, may help understand better the needs of community members and their expertise, collaborate with them to upscale your project, and attract more crowds.

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Sasha Sadovnikova

Founder @How To: Community. Passionate about people's talents and diversity, I help businesses and entrepreneurs create vibrant, dynamic communities that drive success and impact.