Forward-thinking business owners have to be strategic when it comes to devising effective means of communicating with their customers. In this context, it is important to explore online communities and chat groups. Both these platforms can serve as lucrative avenues to foster better engagement with potential clients.
Although you can leverage the benefits of better engagement and communication on both communities and group chats, certain differences do exist between these platforms.
As a marketer or business owner, you should understand which platform would suit your purpose the best.
To learn more about building effective online communities, visit Viafoura.
Differentiating Group Chats And Communities Under Five Parameters
Sometimes, you might have all your customers or audience groups online simultaneously. Also, the size of each audience category might differ. Based on these aspects, you need to decide whether you should go for online communities or group chats.
Online communities can be the perfect solution for discussions that are not time-bound. It would serve its purpose even if all the members are not active at the same time. Online communities are more organized, and you can categorize the discussions under specific threads.
On the other hand, group chats are ideal for real-time communication. Here, you need to have all the participants active and online during the communication process.
Let’s delve deeper into these differences.
Online communities tend to be far more organized as they are well-moderated. Group chats, on the other hand, are fast-paced platforms. This makes it challenging to moderate these conversations. However, certain brands deploy filters in an attempt to prevent inappropriate words or slang in group chats.
In online communities, brands can afford to deploy moderators. They would be responsible for evaluating each post or message for relevancy before these messages appear before the public. Moreover, moderators ensure that the discussion occurs as per the intended subject and that the users do not stray from it.
2. Synchronous and asynchronous conversations
Communicating with your audience in a chat room implies that all the participants should be logged in. The communication is well-synchronized and takes place in real-time. When you communicate with your audience through online communities, the pace of discussion slows down.
Online communities allow visitors to check out the posts and communicate even after hours a discussion has taken place. Therefore, they reserve the liberty to join the discussions late and catch up.
This feature is not available when it comes to group chats. In group chats, the topics can rapidly change, which largely depends on the participants.
3. Longevity and relevance
The longevity and relevance of content largely impact the purpose of your communication. In online communities, the content gets archived for search engines to crawl through long after they are published. Therefore, the content published in communities has greater longevity.
In communities, brands can also leverage the integrated search feature. By deploying this feature, users can come across posts or threads based on certain keywords. However, this feature is absent in most chat rooms.
In case some threads remain inactive, moderators can close the same. However, brands can archive certain information for references in the future. The relevance and longevity of content published in chat rooms are relatively low.
Accessing communities simply requires a browser, as they resemble ordinary websites. However, to access a chat room for a group conversation, the users may have to install an app, browser extension, third-party apps, or plugins. In some chat rooms, the technology uses microphones and webcams too. This liberty of engaging in live conversations is not available in communities.
Also, the text on chat rooms keeps refreshing, making way for new texts. In communities, users need to refresh their browser to check whether any new post has appeared.
5. Registration and validation
Regardless of the nature of your business, you are bound to encounter spam posts. In online communities, users need a valid email address to register. Moderators reserve the liberty to block specific email addresses when the users fail to adhere to the guidelines.
These formalities are not necessary for group chats. Users often visit such discussions for brief periods and abandon the groups when they are no longer interested.
Should You Go For A Community Or A Group Chat?
Whether you should go for a community or deploy a group chat to communicate with your audience depends on three factors.
1. Size of your audience
For private connections with smaller audience groups, group chats would be ideal. The leading tools support up to 250 members. Here, you need to invite the desired members to join the conversations through a link. However, if you have a larger audience group, mainly people unknown to each other, it would be ideal to go for a community.
Joining a group chat late implies that people might miss out on the initial conversation or take time to comprehend the topic. Therefore, group chats would not be the perfect way to communicate with new followers. Communities are more inclusive, and every member can access the chat history.
Given that contact information is often visible on group chats, these communication platforms lack privacy. In this context, it should be noted that communities are safer for people who are reluctant to disclose their contact details.
Now you know the benefits and drawbacks of communities and group chats, you can make a strategic decision. Many brands tactically balance their communication and marketing strategies, deploying both these channels calculatedly.
It would be wise to seek professional support from experts to grow your community. This would significantly streamline your organization, as you would be addressing an increasing number of people each day.