Web communities have been popping up everywhere for sometime now. Medical community web pages have become quite popular and helpful to many people across the globe. Whatever malady you have, no doubt there is a web community for you to share problems, concerns, joys, inventions and best practices. You could say that the Intranet was the first web community of sorts. It was exclusive to employees of a specific company. Web communities are exclusive in that they focus on a specific profession, topic, illness, or hobby and you usually need an ID and password to sign in as well. More than ten years ago AOL started chat rooms with almost every hobby, interest, etc. I do remember trying them out and chatting and sharing ideas and information. #Prodigy was the first professional oriented internet service carrier. Doesn’t exist today – sorry to see it go the way of the dinosaurs. Doctors were one of the first “groups” to sign up for it. It was expensive by today’s standards and kind of clunky to navigate. With the medical community being one of the first groups to acclimate to Prodigy and then other business professions that soon followed it gave it a stodgy appeal, not a lot of fun, and expensive. Than AOL came along and was all fun and friendly in its appeal and relatively cheap. I actually had a co-op job at Prodigy my senior year in college. What did I know about the internet? Not much. I sat in a room and my official title was “Quality Control”. How geeky! I know. But to balance it all I was an intern on the #TODAY Show – a very different community for another blog at another time.
We’ve come a long way is my point. Today whether you are a CPA, belong to a professional association, work in medicine, pharma, or organic farming, there is a web community for you to share with your fellow community members. If you have an interest in learning more about #influenza, #endometriosis, #clean-tech, light cooking, getting published, social media opps, tribal music, #astrology or #astronomy, you can find a web community for you.
From a public relations perspective it means more channels for communicating your message, service, or product. Interactive forums are the most effective as opposed to just putting it up there and letting it be. Like most things, in order to grow your web community you must help it grow, by adding various dimensions other than updating content daily or weekly. Getting members to share ideas, create forum days where there are designated topics that get discussed or highlighted by webinars is one of the more popular methods. In other words you have to help it grow. What will we be blogging about ten years from now? Will web communities have gone the way of the dinosaurs and web chat? Will you access friends and communities via your interactive smart watch ? Only time will tell.