When talking to friends and industry associates about the ideas of “community” as relates to their businesses, I often hear “Yeah, that may work for a company like Apple, but it’ll never work for me”.
On one hand that’s completely correct – not all companies have (or should have) interest in working with the concepts of community. Can you really create community out of Hawiian Punch? Not likely.
But on the other hand, I usually laugh this answer off. Within mere minutes of hearing that, I can usually come up with at least 5 different community approaches for the particular business/product/concept being discussed. Sure, not all of them are winners, but the point is that there are things below the surface. We’re talking about the concept of getting consumers excited enough about your product to talk to people. Krispy Kreme is one of the best companies in the world at doing this, and they make pastry. Jones Soda has gotten people talking and sharing and working with the company, and they make a soft drink.
And it’s important to look beyond the typical example: Apple. (Who in many ways is actually horrid to their fan communities, but a topic for another post). As this article from Cult of Mac points out, there are others out there, and you’ve probably never heard of them.
Not that many years ago, these same marketers saying that community only applies to a small number of products/concepts are also the same ones saying that Web sites wouldn’t hold much marketing value for anyone but the most hardcore techie.