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What Is An Online Community?

Posted by Gary Henderson on May 28, 2023 5:52:12 PM

At, we are big fans of online communities. We are especially bullish on Gary Club, an online community built just for creators who want to do life on their own terms. 

Online communities are everywhere, and you might already be a part of a few. 

Think about it...You might be part of the community at your local church, in your neighborhood, or in an online community for gamers. 

Or maybe you are part of an online networking community, an off-the-grid community, a Facebook groups community for long-distance parents, an online community for podcasts or female entrepreneurs, or part of a Discord community for creators or developers.

Regardless of what may interest you, there are so many benefits to being part of a community.

Communities create a sense of belonging and help bring people together. 

communities bring people together and create a sense of belonging

And there's definitely a reason why online communities are becoming so popular.

Especially since COVID-19 forced everyone to stay indoors and find new ways to still connect with people. 

Businesses, brands, and people from all over the world had to find new ways to build relationships, feed their creativity, make genuine connections, find new customers, and discover new ways to make money online. 

If you are new to online communities, want to build a community of your own, or are simply looking to get involved with more communities online, this blog can help.

This blog post will cover: 

If you're new to online communities, you may be curious about what they are, why you should join one, and what benefits come with being a member.

Let's explore these topics further. 

So, what exactly is an online community?

What is an online community?

Here is the definition and meaning of an online community. 

Online communities (also known as digital communities, internet communities, or virtual communities) are groups of people who interact and engage online around shared interests, challenges, goals, people, or topics.

Communities allow people to be part of a group where they feel like they belong, a place they can call home.

How to build a community

When you join the right online community, it gives you an instant sense of togetherness. You immediately get to transcend from "me" to "we" and to a greater sense of caring. 

Online communities are usually created by a business, brand, or individual who wants to encourage interaction around a particular topic or event.

Online communities come in many different forms. For example, you can find:

  • Invite-only communities (think of how the audio-only Clubhouse app was invite-only when it first launched)

  • Hybrid communities that have some public elements but require a login for full use
  • Private gated communities that require a login and password (many Facebook groups and Discord communities are gated)

  • Public communities that are easily searchable online

An online community can be a powerful tool for growing your business and customer relationships, improving your customer service, and increasing awareness and ROI for your brand or business.

People join online communities for many reasons, and online communities have many benefits.

Benefits of Online Communities

More people in the real world are looking for new communities they can join to create a sense of belonging, to feel appreciated, seen, heard, respected, and to have more meaningful connections. 

What’s crazy is that online communities are providing people with all of those things I just mentioned above. 

Benefits of online communities

Then on top of that, businesses and brands who have already started growing an online community for themselves have found that there are a ton of benefits to creating an online community.

In fact, it’s been proven that online communities help businesses and brands in various ways.

Let's check them out.

Benefits of Online Communities: 

  • Better understand customers and prospect needs 

  • Have more customer engagement and more satisfied customers/people rallying their brand 

  • Help build a more loyal customer base

  • Greatly improve customer support

  • Gain clarity around brands' purpose and mission

  • Get validation and new ideas for marketing content, products, programs

  • More cost efficient 

  • Increase ROI 

What’s crazy is there's an absurd amount of online communities out there. 

Which can make it extremely difficult to know what type of community you should build for yourself or what type of community you should join next. 

So, what are some examples of online communities? 

Online Community Examples

Gary Club is a prime example of an online community, a community built for online creators. 

How to join garyclub in discord

Creators from all over the world join Gary Club (which is housed in Discord) to become part of something bigger than themselves--they get to see what's possible and potentially see how small they are actually thinking.

Gary Club is like a co-working space and networking event all in one. 🦒🦒🦒

People join Gary Club to sharpen their skills, build relationships with some of the hottest creators and most influential people in the world, and find the tools and resources they need to reach their goals (whatever they may be).

Check out some of these testimonials from the creators inside of Gary Club:

why join Gary club testimonial

Gary club testimonial

Now, this is only one example of an online community.

There are quite a few different types of online communities, and they all look different, have different rules and requirements, and serve different purposes and missions.

Let's take a look at them.

10 Types Of Online Communities

  1. Branded communities: Brand communities focus on fostering an emotional connection between community members and a specific brand. This type of online community aims to bring together their community as a tribe in one space, like in Discord or a Facebook group.

    Top examples of branded communities are Apple, Airbnb, Leggo, Sephora, Red Bull, PlayStation, and Harley Davidson. Another example of a branded community (which leans more around a personal brand) is the Holistic Psychologists' SelfHealers Circle which is made up of members from 150 countries around the world.

  2. Closed communities: Communities that only members can see and interact with. These communities usually have strict guidelines, can sometimes require a fee to be paid to join or require a username and password to access the community. 

  3. Fan Communities: These types of communities usually form around favorite books, movies, and other media. They can also form around a favorite creator, such as a musician, artist, YouTuber, or streamer. 

    Many artists and creators are now utilizing fan communities as a way to generate income, using platforms like Discord, OnlyFans, and Patreon to grow their online businesses and personal brands.

  4. Learning communities: Learning communities give learners the chance to ask questions, discuss ideas and concepts and receive feedback from their peers. This type of community also fosters mental health and offers a safe space for emotional support for people who are working to grow and learn new skills. 
  5. NFT communities: To find examples of NFT communities, go to crypto Twitter and look up popular NFT collections like Azuki, Giraffe Tower, The Plague, Sappy Seals, and Pudgey Penguins.

    Many communities in the Web 3.0 space have created virtual communities in the metaverse. 
  6. Open communities: Communities that allow anyone to see and participate in online discussions. Think of popular public Subreddits.

  7. Gaming communities: Gaming communities are usually made up of gamers, players, streamers, and watchers who play certain games like GTA, Fort Nite, Mine Craft, Roblocks, Rocket League, and League of Legends.

    Examples of popular gaming communities are the Steam Community, the PlayStation Network, Reddit, and Xbox Live.

  8. Facebook groups communities: Some of the biggest Facebook groups communities are Deepika Sharma (everyday humor and entertainment, where people share funny videos and memes), Instant Pot Community, Our Evergreen Bangladesh (Bangladeshis discussing appreciation for their country as well as national matters and culture), Cheap Meals Ideas (low-cost meals), Goal Diggers Podcast Insiders with 62.6k members, and Netflix Recommendations. 

  9. Membership Communities: Membership communities are designed to provide members with access to exclusive resources, information, and assistance. An example of a membership community is Stu Mclaren's Membership Facebook group, where he coaches and teaches his members how to build and launch their own membership. 

  10. Networking Communities: Networking communities are usually focused on a certain industry or profession, and they are solely designed to help users find new opportunities to expand their network. Social media platforms like LinkedIn or Slack are often used to build networking communities.

Now that we've explored a few examples and types of online communities, let's discuss the benefits of online communities and why creating your own community or joining an online community is important for you, your business, or your brand. 

Should I join an online community? How do I find online communities?

The only time you should join a community is when you find a group that aligns with who you are or who you want to be. 

If you're interested in joining Gary Club, click here. Also, make sure to join our Discord server of a few thousand creators here

How To Find Online Communities:

  • Check out social media

  • Subscribe to email newsletters

  • Join Facebook groups or support groups 

  • Head to Google (search for your top interests paired with the best communities around that topic or niche)

  • Ask your friends and family for recommendations

Join Our Community on Discord

Final Thoughts On Online Communities

Online communities help you network, engage your users, collect feedback, promote and sell your products, and more.

Online communities also create a sense of belonging and help bring people together. 

Regardless of what your interests are, online communities are worth checking out.

Happy community building!

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