I’ve still been thinking about this idea of how to define community.
To follow-up my follow-up, I’d like to clarify a very important point. There are two different main things we mean:
Sense of community
Buying an iPod gives you a sense of community because you’re part of the overall iPod experience. But simply making the purchase of a G5 doesn’t make you a member of the local Apple User Group. Living in a certain local town gives you a sense of community, even if you never actually meet your neighbors.
Sense of community is certainly a powerful piece of the discussion, especially from a marketer’s standpoint.
If you never do anything in a community, you may experience a sense of community, but you don’t actually belong to that community. Same goes for lurkers on a Web community. A person must be known by at least some part of the community in order for them to actually be part of said community, and this “being known” comes from some amount of participation.
Community Belonging drives much more than simply having a sense of community does. Belonging leads to wanting to recruit others as well – the holy grail for a marketer.