12 Types of Online Communities Explained (with Examples)

Ever heard of Alex?

Starting as a casual gamer, Alex logged hours playing with friends. One day, he chanced upon a gaming forum. There were vibrant discussions, game walkthroughs, and even subgroups discussing lanterns hidden in games.

Soon, he wasn’t just gaming but strategizing in a community that dissected game tactics. His online journey led him to more specialized communities: a forum dedicated to graphic novel enthusiasts, another for amateur game developers, and yet another where players shared their custom game mods.

Each digital corner was unique, pulsating with its own rhythm and conversations.

As a content creator, Alex’s experience can offer deep insights into how a typical user thinks. His journey highlights multiple opportunities to build and grow communities.

So, where should you begin? What types of communities align with your niche, brand, and audience? How do you craft a strategy to attract and retain members like Alex?

In this guide, we’ll detail 12 types of online communities and their relevance for creators. Each type offers unique ways for creators to connect with their audience.

You’ll explore:

  • Real examples where creators have thrived.
  • The unique attributes of each type of community.
  • The do’s, don’ts, and the “definitely consider this” advice.

Content creation offers many avenues, but communities give it depth and direction. Ready to dive in? Let’s explore together!

What are the different types of online communities?

Okay, think of online communities as digital playgrounds. You know how you have different playground parts, like swings, slides, and sandboxes? Online communities are similar. They’re places on the internet where people come to play, learn, share, or even just talk.

So, what makes these communities thrive?

To make a community grow, it needs:

  • A Relevant Platform: Something people already use, like WhatsApp, Telegram or Discord. 
  • People Talking: The more people chat, share, and discuss, the more active the community.
  • Trust: Everyone needs to feel safe and comfortable, just like in a playground.
  • Something Useful: Whether learning something new or getting answers, there should be value in joining.
  • Good Play Rules: As you don’t want bullies on the playground, communities need rules and moderators.

And to not let the same community crash and fall, here’s what you don’t do: 

  • Ignoring Ideas: Not listening to what others say is like ignoring a friend. It’s not good.
  • Too Many Rules: Imagine if you had a rule for every step you took on the playground. Too restrictive, right?
  • Not Being There: The playground becomes empty and quiet if there’s no one to play with or talk to.

Now, let’s explore what are the different types of online communities with successful examples. 

Examples Of Online Communities

 1. Social Media Groups

While ‘social media’ can sound impersonal, groups on these platforms can be the opposite. They enable creators to engage directly with their most loyal fans. 

Think of it like a clubhouse where everyone’s invited, but only the truly passionate show up. It’s a venue for exclusive content, sneak peeks, and direct feedback. Platforms like Facebook Groups allow users to gather around shared interests. Members discuss topics, share updates, post photos, and organize events. 

With Nas.io’s social media integrations, you can bring these vibrant external conversations right into your community hub. Curate and highlight the most engaging discussions to keep members active.

Key Attributes:

  • Shared niche interests
  • Multimedia content like photos, videos
  • Conversations through comments
  • Events and polls for engagement
  • Public and private options

Real-life example: WiseWayToBe

WiseWayToBe

 2. Learning Communities

Education is evolving, and the demand for online learning is skyrocketing. As a creator, this is your ticket to long-term engagement. People don’t just want to consume; they want to grow and learn. A learning community is more than just courses; it’s about fostering discussions, encouraging collaborations, and celebrating milestones. 

Learning communities enable members to take online classes, follow instructors, discuss concepts, and more with a shared goal of gaining knowledge and skills.

Nas.io lets you easily create courses and blend formal learning with open discussions where students can showcase projects and collaborate. Build courses in minutes, nurture your community and get paid! 

Key Attributes:

  • Instructional courses and content
  • Discussions reinforcing lessons
  • Student profiles and social features
  • Student-instructor relationship
  • Course certificates

Examples: Invisible College, Niki’s Russian Club

Niki's Russian Club

3. Support Communities

Remember when we’d lean on friends for advice? Well, the digital age has expanded that circle. Support communities are spaces of mutual help and understanding. For creators, this means a chance to engage deeply with members, establishing a bond of trust and providing value beyond just content. 

Support communities help members discuss challenges, share advice, and assist others based on common interests. With Nas.io, you can build a supportive space tailored to your niche.

Seed conversations by sharing articles and resources. Let members answer each other’s questions to facilitate valuable peer-to-peer assistance. And leverage integrations to connect related communities for holistic support.

Key Attributes:

  • Q&A format for problem-solving
  • Shared interests or demographics
  • Peer-to-peer assistance
  • Conversations via comments

Real Example: Creatives Calendar

Creative Calendar

4. Paid And Unpaid Communities

Paid Communities: These communities function primarily as membership platforms where individuals must remit a certain fee or acquire a membership to gain access. Such communities are often characterized by a heightened level of exclusivity, granting members access to exclusive content, experiences, or resources which may not be readily available to the general public.

Characteristics of Paid Communities:

  • Requires payment for access or membership.
  • Offers exclusive content, experiences, or resources.
  • Tends to have a more curated and exclusive member base.

Successful example: GeekoutPro

Geekout Pro

Unpaid Communities: While these communities might offer exclusive information or experiences, their level of exclusivity tends to be less pronounced since joining is usually free. However, screening processes like interviews or questionnaires could be used to regulate entry, ensuring the community maintains a certain standard or niche interest. Due to the absence of membership fees, these communities often operate on smaller budgets and might offer fewer tangible benefits.

Characteristics of Unpaid Communities:

  • Free to join, but might have entry requirements or screening processes.
  • Operates on tighter budgets compared to paid communities.
  • Provides fewer tangible benefits but can still offer value in terms of information, networking, and shared experiences.

Successful example: Web3Doers

Web3Doers

5. Branded Communities

These communities are typically initiated by brands, which could range from commercial entities to influencers, personal brands, or small-scale businesses offering products or services. Their primary objective is to foster continued interactions with their consumer base or followers within a community setup.

Structure of Branded Communities:

Tone & Style: Typically aligns with the brand’s signature tone and style, ensuring brand consistency.

Brand Moderation: The community usually has representatives or moderators from the brand who facilitate discussions, curate experiences, and occasionally intervene to ensure the brand’s ethos is upheld.

Perks & Loyalty Programs: Many branded communities offer exclusive benefits such as discounts, hacks, and unique experiences to cement brand loyalty and acknowledge the followers’ investment in the brand.

Culture: These communities strive to foster a positive, welcoming, and upbeat culture underpinned by a shared passion for the brand.

Real-life example: Lululemon Community

Lululemon

6. Forums and Discussion Boards

Ah, the good old forums! These are the veterans of online communities. Here, users like Alex discuss topics, share experiences, and seek advice. Conversations can branch endlessly as members discuss experiences, debate issues, and provide advice.

But the benefits go beyond bonding. The power of forums lies in their organic, autonomous nature. As a creator, you get insights into what’s resonating with your audience. Your members bring up questions or topics you might never have thought of. 

Sign up for free today

    With Nas.io’s community feed, you’re installing a direct feedback loop by setting up a forum-like environment. This can inform your content strategy and help uncover product needs.

    With Nas.io, you can easily build lively discussions through community feed and get members to engage and discuss via comments. Encourage members to start new topics to keep things fresh. And don’t let stagnant threads stay active for too long.

    Vibrant forums keep community members engaged while providing valuable insights into their interests and pain points. Get ready for organic, wide-ranging discussions!

    Key Attributes:

    • Open, wide-ranging discussions
    • Anyone can start new topics
    • Responses through comments
    • Public and visible
    • Largely text-based

    Example to explore: EduGeek

    Edugeek

    7. Fan Communities

    Fan communities are passion-powered. It’s where your most enthusiastic audience members congregate. As a creator, harnessing this energy can elevate your brand. Organize contests, spotlight fan-created content, and co-create with your community.

    Fan communities unite people around a shared love for a brand, hobby, passion, or public figure. While maintaining authenticity, Nas.io gives you tools to cultivate an engaging space for your superfans.

    Encourage user-generated content like fanart or playlists. Spotlight diverse fan perspectives through features like Q&As. And facilitate collaborative projects like zines or group watch parties!

    Key Attributes:

    • Shared adoration and passion
    • Casual socializing
    • Content sharing and remixing
    • Events like watch parties

    Real Example: Insider Football Community

    Insider Football Community

    8. Product/Service Communities

    Don’t just push products on people – engage them in ongoing conversations to refinement and innovation.

    Product communities center engagement between brands and users. They help refine products, innovate, and enhance user experience. 

    With Nas.io, you easily integrate product feedback into your community.  It’s where your product evolves with every conversation!

    Welcome constructive criticism to improve. Set up private channels for beta testing new features. And share behind-the-scenes details to get users invested in your product roadmap.

    In fact, go a step further and make your community a product! With Nas.io, build and monetize a newsletter through a community. 

    Case in point: Money Secrets—a subscription-based service community delivering in-depth analysis of stock markets.

    Money Secrets

    Key Attributes:

    • Product-focused conversations
    • User feedback to guide building
    • Early access to new features
    • Peer-to-peer assistance
    • Rewards for active users

    9. Employee Communities

    Workplace communities are where colleagues connect. Platforms like Slack enable conversations beyond work. Workplace communities foster social connections and unite distributed team members. With Nas.io, turn every workplace into a community where every employee feels heard. 

    Encourage employees to showcase hobbies and interests. Enable mentor/mentee relationships. And facilitate meetups for distributed teams through video chat and virtual events.

    Key Attributes:

    • Space for non-work conversations
    • User profiles and social features
    • Networking and mentorship
    • Virtual events and hangouts
    • Interest or location-based channels

    Real Example: Nas Company Community

    Nas Company

    10. Local Communities

    The local aspect adds a tangible touch to the digital community. It merges online interactions with real-world connections. For creators focusing on local content, services, or products, these communities amplify reach and solidify their local standing. 

    Local communities connect residents online to discuss hyperlocal updates, events, recommendations, and more. With Nas.io, create a space to foster neighborly conversations.

    Work with trusted local partners to seed conversations. Allow members to organize real-world events and groups. And moderate carefully to keep interactions safe and helpful for all residents.

    Key Attributes:

    • Hyperlocal updates
    • Classifieds like housing and jobs
    • Events, meetups and groups
    • Reviews of local businesses
    • Public safety alerts

    Real examples to explore: SG Community Forum

    SG Community Builders

    11. Non-Profit Communities

    Change-driven and purposeful, these communities rally around causes. For creators aligned with non-profits, it’s not just about discussion – it’s about action. Non-profit communities engage people around causes and change-making. Nas.io provides tools to mobilize members, rally donations, and drive impact.

    Gather members around events and calls to action. Offer varied ways to contribute through donations, volunteering, and outreach. And put faces to the cause by spotlighting individuals impacted.

    Key Attributes:

    • Shared values and goals
    • Grassroots advocacy
    • Educational resources
    • Individual stories
    • Volunteering and events

    Real Example: Good Ripple

    Good Ripple

    12. Entrepreneur Communities

    The entrepreneurial journey is thrilling yet fraught with challenges. These communities become hubs of mentorship, advice, and collaboration. As a creator, fostering such a space can position you as a thought leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

    Entrepreneur communities offer support, mentorship, and networking for business owners at all stages. With Nas.io, create a space to turn ideas into reality.

    Match mentors and mentees based on skills and interests. Allow confidential sharing of challenges and lessons learned. And highlight diverse journeys to entrepreneurship.

    Key Attributes:

    • Sharing advice and insights
    • Mentor/mentee relationships
    • Coworking and partnerships
    • Events like pitch nights
    • Success and failure stories

    Real Example: 1000 Founders Community

    1000 Founders Community

    Application Of Different Community Types

    Let us recap and weave a clear picture of how you can utilize each community type. 

    1. Social Media Groups: Great for casual conversations, sharing updates, and organizing events around shared interests.
    2. Learning Communities: Serve as platforms for online courses, peer discussions, and showcasing projects.
    3. Support Communities: Focus on addressing challenges, offering advice, and facilitating peer assistance.
    4. Paid Communities: Focus on delivering real value and developing a tightly built loyalty base.
    5. Branded Communities: Foster loyalty, engagement, and deeper connections between a brand and its consumers.
    6. Forums and Discussion Boards: Ideal for deep-dive discussions on niche topics, sharing insights, or troubleshooting issues.
    7. Fan Communities: Centers around a shared passion, allowing members to socialize, share content, and organize events.
    8. Product Communities: Engage users in feedback discussions, beta testing, and aligning product development with user needs.
    9. Employee Communities: Foster workplace camaraderie, mentorship, and networking.
    10. Local Communities: Engage members in hyperlocal news, classifieds, events, and discussions.
    11. Non-Profit Communities: Facilitate advocacy, volunteering, fundraising, and educational resource sharing.
    12. Entrepreneur Communities: Offer business advice, networking opportunities, and platforms for sharing entrepreneurial journeys.

    Conclusion

    There you have it – a walkthrough of  12 types of online communities that are bursting with potential!

    Hopefully, you’re pumped to bring people together in a space tailored to your niche. But remember, community-building takes time and intention. Resist quick vanity metrics and focus on nurturing authentic human connections.

    There are endless options to leverage online communities aligned to your niche and audience. Carefully consider your purpose, target members, and how to craft experiences catered to them.

    And to really build something BIG, something GREAT from your community, use a community-building platform like Nas.io. It helps you moderate, manage and collaborate to transform passive followers into engaged community members. 

    And most importantly, tools like Nas.io help you earn and build a sustainable income from your niche community type.

    So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get out there and start bringing people together! Join Nas.io today for free.

    You might also like

    community-10
    The 10 Largest and Most Impactful Onli...
    04 Jan 2024
    10 min read
    Read More
    nas.io-cms
    10 Modern Types of Online Communities ...
    26 Dec 2023
    8 min read
    Read More
    creators-community
    Why Building Community Pays More than ...
    22 Dec 2023
    9 min read
    Read More

    Join our Newsletter Community

    Created by community managers, for community managers.