Communities and the social economy. Part 2: Which community to choose. admin May 7, 2024
Communities and the social economy. Part 2: Which community to choose.

There are many types of communities. When deciding on the type of community to create, two things need to be taken into account: what we want to achieve and what resources we have.

It is very common when creating a community that the first question to be asked is: what is the best tool?

There are all kinds of software and the choice has to take into account issues such as budget, the technological maturity of the organisation, the software in use and the resources for learning. As a general rule, look for what is easiest to use because it helps to avoid resistance, to joining the community and allows people to contribute and spend time on content and interaction rather than on mastering the tool. This sweet spot can vary greatly from one entity to another.

However, this is almost the least important thing. In fact, when we talk about the cost of having a community, the software is the least important part of the total. Having someone to energise the members, to enforce the rules, to extract knowledge and share it, to manage the onboarding, … It is in all this that care and attention must be paid.

There is something that is not usually taken into account when implementing a community and that is the fact that it is a slow dynamic. The objectives and, therefore, the benefits have to be considered in the medium and long term.

There is a lot of resistance to overcome in order to get people to participate in communities. Creating a safe and comfortable environment is not achieved immediately. Rewarding membership may appear to be a good option at the beginning, but what needs to be achieved is that members feel that they are compensated for the time invested, that it is worth being there. 

Achieving this is the hardest part, and while there are better and worse tools, the key is to choose a community manager who understands these dynamics and needs and is able to implement them.

In terms of types of communities, we can find:

Internal communities

These are those designed to reinforce internal organisation. They are particularly useful in social economy organisations. The reason is that this type of organisation has a culture that is somewhere between a traditional company and an NGO, and this requires a period of adaptation for new incorporations.

In the growth phases, they are a great tool, as they have to pay special attention to finding the convergence between the values of the organisation and the strategies necessary for expansion, and the community plays a monitoring role. This is one of the most complicated points when social economy organisations aim to grow, so any help is welcome.

In this type of community, it is necessary to provide space for reflection and criticism. In this type of organisation, workers have a very high level of commitment and this must be recognised. Listening to and incorporating suggestions is a good strategy to maintain this commitment.

Communities of insights

Ambassadors, early adopters, prospecting communities, … They have many names.

These communities are small and require a careful selection of their members. It is necessary to be very clear about their function and even their duration, as sometimes they can be used for a purpose that once fulfilled does not require the continuity of the community.

The following example will give a better understanding of this type of community.

In organisations with branches or franchises, one person is chosen from each “unit”. These are not company meetings where balance sheets or reports are presented. It is a place that, although it has its rules, is more open and leaves room for expression and reflection. The aim is to be able to value the experience and knowledge of each member, as well as to be able to understand the unregulated, informal and even unconscious knowledge that is generated in organisations.

Another of the objectives they fulfil is to be able to transfer the organisational culture in a more natural and proactive way and not so much with objectives to be met.

User/customer communities

It might appear that this type of community should not exist after the emergence of social networks. Neither Facebook nor Twitter could completely do away with the classic pre-Web 2.0 forums. Paradoxically, the saturation of social networks, the lack of privacy, overexposure and increasingly invasive advertising have led to a revival of these more “closed” spaces.

What is most valued in them is being able to share tastes and interests without having to give too many explanations, as well as finding interesting information for the user without having to see topics that do not arouse the slightest interest.

This type of community creates the ideal environment for building loyalty and gathering first-hand information about our target audience. With a good dynamisation, they are perfect spaces for testing products and services.

They require patience, attention and a lot of space for users. They are somewhat reminiscent of classic NGO volunteer management. In fact, many of the dynamics that are valid in volunteering are equally valid for these communities after digitisation.


These are just two brief notes on one of the booming elements in the digital environment. Community building is nowadays a full-time profession and a tool in organisational management. Like any tool, it is not obligatory, but it is worth bearing in mind.

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