A recent survey by Pew Internet found that over 84% of internet users in America (90 million + people) have used a community at one time or another. This survey explores the impact of various online community segments and how they have impacted racial, ethnic and cultural divides. According to the survey results, online communities have helped members of existing groups become more intone with those interests, find similar minded people and in the case of local communities, better interact with those around them.
At the top of community lists are trade associations and hobby/ interest groups, both of which are used by 50% of internet users. Fan sites, medical support communities and local communities also rank extremely high.
This article is by no means new but the implications are just now being fully understood. As the dot-com crash becomes a thing of the past, the internet is being increasingly seen as a major contributing factor in online product research, lead generation and overall consumer and b2b sales. Online marketing is also growing as companies have seen a steady decline in the effective reach of traditional tv and print advertising. With online marketing leads can come at a fraction of the cost and with greater flexibility, lower cost and of course shorter implementation times.
Whether you run a hobby site or consider your forum a business it is important to understand the world wide impact you are having. Communities are becoming more and more important to the world, and that’s good for business!
Read the complete results at http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Communities_Report.pdf