“A community is comprised of a group of individuals brought together either physically or digitally by certain elements of commonality.”

Peering from behind his wine glass at the dinner table, this is my uncle’s “expert” opinion on what the definition of ‘Community is.’ Cleverly scratching the surface with a broad brushstroke answer (as he tends to do in order to maintain his status of “Family Know-it-all”) Uncle Todd leaves more to be defined.

Rather than identifying a literal definition I want to discuss the essence of the word “Community.” It is really about exploring what these “elements of commonality” are when identifying what differentiates certain communities from others in their levels of positive cohesiveness and overall value.

Community is more than a tangible collection of people. It’s a feeling, a state of being, where the association within one delivers value to each person in the form of education, influence, inspiration, emotional appeal and desire. Community can be achieved only in the presence of real people, with real topics of discussion, real experiences and in a common setting whether that is physical or digital. We believe that the best forms of community come in the presence of genuine social engagement between members.

We have an idea of what community is but what do we mean by socially engaged communities?

Building socially engaged communities is how Online Presentz started. We have a passion for building engaged social communities between brands/businesses and their consumers both prospective and current so that consumers might have an all-access level pass to the businesses or brands they support.

A socially engaged community is a community of people built on branded social platforms where the focus becomes the community member rather than the brand. It is the role of the brand’s social community leader to deliver value to the community in the forms of education, exclusivity, support and by providing interesting and socially engaging content that folks can rally around and believe in.

In the amazing book “Engaged” written by Brian Solis we are presented with a range of theories, all loosely connected as similar methods necessary to establish and foster flourishing and interactive communities. Taking the terminologies passed down by social media mavens like Chris Heuer, David Armano and Gaurav Mishra, Brian offers “The Code of Community Cultivation” as his rendition of what needs to be in place to secure a socially engaged community.

Conversation: Successful communities thrive on interaction

Core Values: Philosophies and principles that guide our conduct and the relationships we forge

Culture: The behavior characteristics of the community we define and shape.

Cause: Our conviction, our intent, our mission… Without cause, we lose motivation and a supporting reward structure.

Credit: Recognition, paying it forward, and attention are the attributes of empowerment and thus a stronger community.

Coalition: Affinity and associations require liking, sympathy, commonalities, and compelling characteristics that compel someone to align with other people or with something else.

Conversion: Change is paramount. The ability to shift someone fro one state or place to another is powerful, transformative, and part of any ongoing community program.

Commitment: Without resolve, passion, or drive we cannot expect to inspire others to join or remain part of our communities. We are the catalysts. We are contagious. We must establish and convey our conviction to ensure loyalty and camaraderie.

Compromise: In order to grow and evolve, we must adapt, which requires us to listen and feel the feedback from our community. This is how we learn and innovate.

Champion: Without champions, the ability to scale growth becomes difficult, if not impossible. We musty instill enthusiasm and empower champions to help us extend our reach.

Compassion: Empathy and sympathy are instrumental attributes for feeling the state, experience, and emotions of our peers and influencers in order to understand the people we are trying to reach.

Confidence: In order to convey expertise, insight, and passion authoritatively, confidence is the key to believability.

Brian also includes examples from Chris, David, and Guarav as part of his code of community cultivation. We encourage you to pick up a copy of Brian’s book “Engage” to see their lists.

Brian signs off in chapter 20 by claiming that socially engaged communities reward selflessness despite the fact that a businesses’ operational objectives are being met in the formulation of this community. As long as we give the audience something to believe in and we work to secure genuine and authentic engagement, consumers within the community will accept this truth because now, they are part of a community that is socially engaged.

So, while Uncle Todd continues to be the reigning balderdash champ in our family, his definition leaves a lot unsaid. Community means a lot of things to a lot of people, but there are common themes that transcend personal definitions born from unique experiences. We’d love to hear what you believe defines true community and whether or not it can be established online.

Leave a comment below, post on our Facebook page, or send us a tweet.