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Conversation is the Core of Community

January, 20, 2022

Conversation and messaging icons

If you ask community leaders what they think is the basis of a thriving online community, you’ll often get the response: “Common Interest.” And it’s true; common interest often draws people together. Tightly focused communities around highly targeted content can drive deep audience engagement and impressive business results. However, there is one key risk that even the most active communities face: How do you avoid hitting the wall? And by that, I mean the wall of repetitive content, the exhaustion of key topics, and the subsequent decline in engagement, activity, and traffic. In short, how do you avoid community flameout?

We’ve been grappling with this existential issue at CredSpark and have kept coming back to the same question: Is “Common Interest” the foundation of successful community building? Or is “the Discovery of Common Interest” the foundation of successful community building? Are successful communities built in a focused way around a common interest from the top down? Or are they the result of a continuous back-and-forth between audience members where shifting common interests and topics emerge and drive activity and engagement?

No, we’re not talking about replicating a Facebook free-for-all food fight. However, even communities that are highly focused on a particular subject or domain can benefit and thrive from bottom up, audience-driven activity. But how do you create that?

The Promise of Conversation

Think about it: What’s the secret sauce of a really great party (besides free flowing booze)? It’s great conversation. And how is great conversation fostered? People ask interesting and probative questions of each other and in the process, learn more about one another; find common interests; and make deeper connections.  We think that “process”—enabled through interactive content—can be an underlying driver of audience engagement, audience development, and community building. Let’s dig deeper by starting with a question…

What’s the Impact of Conversation on a Community?

Incorporating interactive content into your community can foster audience conversations and tangibly improve business results. In our client work, we see positive impact in six key areas:

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