Technologies advance at an exponential rate and in turn, the Internet is more extensive every day to the point that it is impossible to know it completely. However, the Internet has allowed people to unite in a virtual community determined according to their tastes, hobbies, professions , or related activities.
The virtual community is formed through forums, pages, blog and other similar ones where it seeks to integrate people through a common sense . The objective is to assess through people the interest of the same in that place either by the constant activity of information exchange, debates about the topics that are proposed among others. Mostly when a community is created within a page, it ends up being beneficial for everyone , because the page gains popularity while those who make it up as a community contribute ideas, acquire a sense of belonging and keep the page active .
- Characteristics of a virtual community
- How a virtual community works
- How it differs from a social network
- Examples of virtual community
A virtual community is defined as the data section where the interactions, links and relationships of a place are found; not as a physical space if not virtual through the internet assisted by a device that has a connection to it.
Characteristics of a virtual community
The most notable characteristics of a virtual community are:
- People who are different from real life are partly more at ease with other people in the virtual community because they share the same likes.
- The virtual communities are not the same as social networks , but are intertwined.
- The pages that present a large flow of users connected in the community are the most active on the web.
- For the pages that are supported by advertising or other methods, they need an active community to increase their income.
- Nowadays, people go more to forums or internet pages looking for help with certain problems of daily life than to experts such as psychologists or help books.
Virtual communities originated in the 90s, the idea was born in conjunction with the internet, however, previously similar conceptual ideas had been outlined such as ARPANET which connected scientists, academies, institutions and the military; while BBSs were developed for civilians .
Although they were good attempts, it was in these years that the concept began to be developed in an impressive way, due to the elimination of the clause where the commercial use of the Internet was prohibited and the World Wide Web , better known as WWW, was raised. and at the same time, the first developments of electronic mail, online chats and instant messaging systems.
How a virtual community works
In a virtual community there is a main topic on which various options are added to improve the interaction within it, some of these tools are:
- Establish small discussion forums where different debates are constantly held based on the main theme of the page.
- Develop tools such as the creation of groups where people who have developed a certain rapprochement through the platform meet.
- Person-to-person chats where users are continuously connected to share information in a more private way.
- A content manager where users find it easier to share multimedia files.
- A suggestion box where the owners and administrators of the page can read the requests of the users in order to improve it.
- The exchange of information between users.
- Offering support with empathy and expressing emotion so that the person feels pleased.
- That conversations and social environments are developed as information simultaneously.
- That there is a constant debate within the page supported by the moderators.
- Keep the page alive through content provided by users.
There are different types of virtual communities , among them the following stand out:
- Discussion forums, either with or without moderators and with a public or private nature.
- Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat among others.
- The email sections .
- Both national and international newsgroups.
- The chat and video chat pages .
- Pages to manage content.
- P2P system better known as ” Peer to Peer ” such as Napster and MEGA .
- Notice board systems.
The main advantages of a virtual community are:
- Within the business area of the pages:
- Branding improvement .
- Relationship marketing development .
- Lowering costs.
- Check income provisions.
- Expansion of the catalog of products offered.
- Opening to new products
- Increase in customer offerings
- Development to cyberculture .
- Creation of a filter for new entrants.
Among the advantages of a virtual community we highlight:
- Possible page drops due to not being able to handle large user traffic.
- Possible attack by users as a “rebellion” for disgust with the page.
- Rupture of the community of the page due to the creation of new portals.
The difference lies in three important points, which although it is a very thin line, we will see that we investigate in depth the differences are remarkable.
The first and most relevant is that virtual communities are established from a specific topic, while social networks are simply platforms to connect people , which although it is based on specific points such as Instagram and Snapchat that use the medium main subject of photography and video, this does not count as the main subject.
The second is a little less remarkable and is that, contrary to what happens in a virtual community, there is no true hierarchy within social networks. Social networks have administrators, moderators, page owners, users among others, while in social networks we only create a profile.
Finally, because in a virtual community the topics are centered, the moderators always require users to talk about the central topic while on social networks you are “free” to share whatever you want.
The virtual community allows us, as Internet users, to enter pages where we really feel comfortable when it comes to sharing our tastes or various topics without the fear of being offended or attacked, but rather supported by the community itself.
Examples of virtual community
Some examples of virtual community are:
- Bum corner
- M for woman
- Free market