October 14, 2011 Duncan Alney

Building Community Online Requires Content, Conversation, Value & Trust

building community online

A lot brands say they’re interested in building community online, but “community” is an over-used word these days.

Building Community Online

Perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that there is a community continuum. Or perhaps just many varietals of community. These days, we’re used to brand communities both online and offline. Some are developed by the brands and some are self-determined.

Either way, there are a variety of qualities that these online brand communities share.

Today, I’m discussing a highly simplified version of the Firebelly approach to building communities online. I will not be discussing a lot of salient factors like anthropological research, cultural awareness, micro-context, the value of displaced members, community pillars, conversation psychology, persuasion factors, etc.

So here goes.

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We’ve been sharing stories since time began. In town squares, in temples and churches, in our homes, and around fires. Story telling is an art.

Content is the clinical term for various forms of media that hopefully encapsulates a story or values. With the social channels we use, sharing content (our own or others) is easy. People react. And perhaps if the content is relevant, people will have a conversation.


Just like in the offline world, if people have enough conversations over time they start to recognize or feel an affinity toward each other (or to the person or values that represent the brand).

Affinity is more than a signal of belonging, but much less than a significant bond. It is an opportunity, however, or maybe it’s more appropriate to call it the “real” beginning of a relationship.

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Value & Trust

If value is consistently added to affinity, the result is some form of trust and relationship. Especially if it’s based on some shared values or vision.

Now we’re talking “community” at a raw level—that holy place that so many brands dream about for their audiences. Community has, does, and always will do great things-positive and negative. Community has affected changed, overcome adversity, developed life-altering innovations, and moved mountains.

And yes, community can be monetized.

Firebelly’s approach to building community online

building community approach

Seem simple? It is. Yet it is tremendously complex and difficult to accomplish. Still, this I can say – conversations, making a difference to people’s lives (value), and trust are the factors that are most essential to building community.

Interested in building community online for your cause or brand? Firebelly is here for you. Call us at 317-557-4460, email us at hello@firebellymarketing.com or fill out our contact form.

Duncan Alney

CEO at Firebelly
Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.
Duncan Alney

About the Author

Duncan Alney Fun Fact: Duncan co-authored the book "Facebook Marketing Secrets." He founded Firebelly in 2001.



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