E50 – The Difference Between An Audience & Community

In today’s episode, we talk about the difference between an audience and a community. Why? Because a lot of folks tend to confuse the two!

So if you’re tuned into shows on the web, whether they be podcasts, blogs, vlogs or Snapchats, you might have heard your favorite influencers interchange the words “audience” and “community”.

Now, according to Google, the definition of a community is:

So, in the past, communities were usually formed based on geographical location and proximity. Easy enough, right? But after things like organized religion or even the Internet, communities took on a greater meaning that extended beyond physical boundaries.

However, when we’re referring to building a community around your brand, product or services, it’s important to note when a group of people is simply an audience vs a community.

Find Out Your Audience’s Motivations

So in order to know when a group of people who follow you (we’re going to use your personal brand as an example) become a community, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many people are following me, or listening to what I have to say right now?
  2. Why are they here at this point in time? What’s going on in their lives?
  3. Are they only interacting with me and my offerings, or are they interacting with each other too?

If they are interacting with each other, what and how are they interacting?
Getting people to focus one-way, say on you, is great! You have people’s attention. But to really get things going, you want to start getting that one-way attention diverted in an omnidirectional manner (around them to other members of the audience).

When Does An Audience Become A Community?

The best time to get an audience interacting with one another is when you’ve come to understand their basic motivations. So if you have a captive audience, and they’re engaging with you, ask them questions about what they drew them in the first place. Probe. Identify.

Once you’ve spent some time with them, then connect them with each other.

When you do this, you further cement bonds between you (for having set up the connections), and each other (an extra node of value).

Generally, folks will be attracted to you or your offerings to solve an external problem. But they will stay once they realize you’re also helping them solve an internal one.

‘Community’ is all about that sense of belonging.

Exercise: Identify Where You’re People Are At

So here’s an exercise. Take a look at who’s following you at the moment. Is the attention one way? Or is your audience interacting with each other as well? This will determine whether you have an audience or a community.

Comment below with your answers or observations! 

2 Replies to “E50 – The Difference Between An Audience & Community”

  1. Great episode, George! Your analogy
    about audience vs. community is really simple and great, but if I turn to the
    friend next to me and start interacting about the presentation we are watching
    on the laptop, that isn’t community–it’s a huge start (beyond two people
    following the same Twitter account or both using the same hashtag) but it’s
    still audience.

    As I watched this, I had a reaction to 1:44 – 1:49 in the video. I found the portrayal of the way the man and woman were interacting around what was on the laptop visually confusing; I still saw this as audience- communicating together but main focus of attention still directed on whatever was happening/playing on the laptop. The still image of the man and woman talking was a better portrayal of where the relationship goes once two parties have been brought together around a shared interest.

    Such a great topic- thank you for sharing!

    1. Great feedback! This just means more care needs to be put into the explanations from my end 🙂

      And agreed. Communities don’t start by simply getting audiences to face each other. It merely starts a process

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