Community. It's a powerful word. It can mean inclusion, it can be tied to businesses, it can even lead to social movements.
It’s also in danger of becoming lost to the jargon juggernaut that is marketing.
As soon as we marketers see something working for others, we tend to hop on the bandwagon and try to copy success. It’s okay to admit it. We’re only human.
Here’s the thing, though: It doesn’t have to be that way.
We need to define community through multiple perspectives because people are not one monolithic entity. This can’t be simply a “Here’s what community means and here’s how we monetize it” situation.
When you think of community for your brand, think of it from at least two basic perspectives: Your business and your people. Maybe even flip that and think of your people first and your business second.
When thinking about the people, consider the communities you belong to and what makes them special.
For example, I’m part of the community of Metallica fans. What makes it special is my history with their music, getting to hear different versions of live performances, getting early notifications of concerts and new albums, and connecting with other fans to hear their stories. It’s not a way for the band to simply send me coupon codes and sell me stuff (although I do buy!). But it’s a place for me to connect with others who love to headbang to new and old Metallica.
I’m also a member of the HubSpot Community and have been for a very long time. Why? Because I believe in the mission of HubSpot, I love the work the company does, I’ve used the tool since 2010, and now I love to help others. Again, it’s not a place where HubSpot sells me. It’s a place to “gather” and lift others up.
As more businesses buy into the community movement, I’m excited to see how they serve their organic, existing communities, and how others grow strategic communities without exploiting their audience.
The questions I’d like to ask us all are these:
I asked my teammates these questions, along with folks within the HubSpot Community and others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Here are a few thoughts. I’d love to know what you think, too. Leave your perspective in the comments!
Dewayne Higgs: For me, a community is a group of people who meet to share in some common interest, and that common interest could really be anything. Whether it's a hobby, an interest in a service or product, or a unifying goal, it doesn't really matter, just as long as people are willing to meet up and engage in the subject matter.
Communities have always played an important role in my life: matter-of-fact, I probably wouldn't be the software engineer I am today if it weren't for the opportunities afforded to me by local industry-related communities such as the (now defunct) Amarillo Tech Meetup and the Machine Learning and Big Data Meetup, which I help organize. I might be a bit biased, but I would have to say that those two communities are my favorite.
Jacob Olle: Community, to me represents a group of different people who work to identify and leverage their unique strengths, lifting each other up in the process. Niche communities, like the HubSpot Community, are especially awesome because they help you find other people like you who actually understand and get excited about the same stuff that you do!
Anton Bujanowski: For me, a community is all about connection with people who share the same interest(s) and grow together.
As most of us, I’ve started as a complete beginner searching for help in the HubSpot community and now - 5-6 years into it - I’m able to help other people from all over the world with their questions.
Jennifer Nixon: I think a community creates a sense of belonging, where our similarities bring us together, but our differences help us grow and challenge each other.
And one like the HubSpot Community lets you use your strengths to help others while also having the opportunity to level up your own skills by learning from others, it's a win-win. 🧡
Giesle Lempert: For me community is a place where people feel understood and supported. 🧡
Chris Martin: Community to me, is a place where the success of the group is the ultimate aim. It's where people feel supported, valued and a part of something greater than themselves.
But it's also a place that cares, that helps those with less to give and enables everyone to grow together.
Jen Bergen: Community creates a place to be supported in work and life, to make and support friends, and to accomplish something bigger together than we could do on our own. It is where you can feel seen and heard. In this safe space you can be more receptive to learning from other people, and more confident to share your knowledge or experience to help other people.
Here’s the question for you: What does “community” mean to you personally and to you as a professional (in marketing, sales, or as a business owner)?
Let’s start our own community of people thinking more deeply about community right here. Drop your thoughts in a comment, converse with others, and let’s come together over this vision.