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Recommend This!: Delivering Digital Experiences that People Want to Share by Kirby Wadsworth, Jason Thibeault

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Chapter 16

Nurturing Online Communities

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.

—Rollo May

In the early days of commerce, people sat around the pot-bellied stoves of the general stores, arguing, spitting, sipping, swapping stories and gossip, sharing horse sense, and building lasting relationships amongst themselves (and the stores). Many stores even had separate benches for Republicans and Democrats. We’ve devoted an entire book to helping understand how to translate successful relationship building techniques from the real world to the digital world. How can an organization capture some of the ethos of the old general store in our digital efforts?

The answer is an online community.

The Online Community as “Virtual Physical Presence”

Digital communities exemplify a number of characteristics found in that old general store:

  • Conversation: Instead of aisles of products and separate benches, the digital community has rooms or channels. But people are still arguing, talking, and sharing. There are conversations between people (trying to solve their own problems) and conversations with people and organization associates.
  • Commerce: It’s not impossible to integrate products directly into the community experience so that people can “browse” shelves, jump into a conversation, and go back to browsing (or purchasing).
  • Assistance: When the community is integrated with the larger digital presence, seeking assistance is only a button or link ...

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