The word audience and community are often used together, but are both completely different.
Within the social media world, we are encouraged to build our audience to have a conversation with those who share our beliefs and interests. To then say we have a community, who hang onto our every tweet, is totally wrong.
So, What Is The Difference Between Audience And Community?
In the easiest way to explain, an audience are those people who have agreed to receive information from you. This could be from a Twitter follower to a subscriber to your blog posts.
A community are the people who continue to keep a dialogue with you and care. This is when your brand transcends you as a person and customers have an ongoing interaction based on what your company represents, stands for and quality of work produced, whether you are active within the company or not.
When I watch my beloved football team (AFC Bournemouth) and the other spectators who go to watch the game are the truest meaning of the word ‘audience.’ There are common themes to what an audience represents. For instance the crowd share the same interest (we support the same team), we share relevant content (talk to others about who we need to sign, who we should never have signed), we engage (shout, sing and get into the match atmosphere) and we are consistent (it’s a team that we’ll go again to support). Taking things into the realms of community has a different approach.
Back to the football analogy, a community represents those where the involvement goes beyond the 90 minutes of football. This includes a shared content narrative (the online football forums), rituals (going to every home and away game) and value systems (buying a season ticket, every season). The support will always be there (no matter what league) and will last beyond the tenure of any manager or ownership.
What The Difference Between Audience And Community Means To Business
This is representative of what an audience and community means to a business. An audience is a group who share a common theme and listen to what you have to say (and naturally grateful back), whereas a community is a privilege to be part of and where your contribution matters alongside others, but will continue with or without you. The experience belongs to everyone involved.
An audience and community are both two separate entities and whilst one is not better than the other, it just depends on what you want to achieve and build.