How the online community differs from social media

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Nowadays the word “community” most commonly used for the brand page in social media. This is an important marketing channel that companies need to be focused on. For example, on Facebook alone in 2019, the number of users exceeded 1,5B. This website is a part of every day’ life for many people, thus it’s necessary for a brand to be represented there. It can be used for many reasons: customer acquisition (paid or organic), customer support, brand awareness and so on.


Despite all the benefits, social networks have their disadvantages. For example, during the last years, organic reach has dropped to 6% which means that brands can be promoted by paid advertising only. 

To sum up, the disadvantages list looks like this:

· organic reach decreasing. According to recent data, on average, it can be only 6%. This means that out of every 100 subscribers, only 6 will see the post in the news feed. To cover a larger number - brands need to use paid promotion

· unpredictable changes in the algorithms. This may bring a lot of bad “surprises” and sometimes requires new SMM techniques

· limited communication options: there is no way to customize the message for the subscriber depend on his/her previous interaction with the page

· restrictions for some business niches. These limits were set to protect users from the scam, however, there are a number of niches where such total restrictions are unfairly

· limited access to user data. There is no option to automatically identify the most active users and award them. 

· you do not control your page and in case of massive “complaints” from competitor’s bots, it can even be blocked. The final decision is not on your side, but on the side of the social network.

· you can not set up the levels of access to view your page. For example, sometimes there is a need to give the right to write a review only to those customers who made the purchase

· your brand is among hundreds of others and there is a need to “fight for attention”. 


Despite their popularity, social networks could be considered only as a platform for advertising and an additional channel for customer support. For more advanced business-customer relations, such as brand advocates program it is needed to do a lot of manual work. How online community platform may benefit the business? It works opposite to social networks - gives access to data, advanced user segmentation, custom access for different user-profiles. Moreover, own online community platform allows implementing custom gamification scenarios and emphasizes the marketing strategy. 


 Therefore, big brands prefer to use their own online community platforms. The areas of application are very different - from beauty topics (Sephora) to business (Cisco). 


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