7 Types of Online Commnunities: Which is Right for You?


Generally speaking, online communities bring together networks of customers, experts and partners to connect, share expertise and create conversation and collaboration, in an owned online space.

If you want to learn more about the many types of virtual communities and which ones are right for your business, you’ve come to the right place. One size does not fit all. Working with an innovative community provider allows you to tailor an online community to your brand. Here are the most important community formats you can consider to grow your business.


RELATED: Tips to Build a Great Online Community


In This Article:

  1. Different Types of Online Communities
  2. Top 7 Types of Online Communities
  3. Are you looking to build your online communities?

Different types of online communities

Most online communities are centered on bringing people together around a common interest, cause, or goal. Members connect, engage, and share their knowledge with each other. The difference is in the central focus of the community.

The many types of online communities you can find online are thanks to the wide range of interests, professions, and habits of people all over the world. Each one is tailored to the needs of its members, and that means lots of variety!


When it comes to the different types of communities, it’s important to take note that a community can be categorized as more than one type. There are no set rules differentiating the types of online communities and often the lines are blurred between them.

For instance, as a course creator, you might set up a learning community that doubles as a brand community. As your online community grows and becomes more established, it will probably also take on the form of a social community.

To get a better idea of what those types of online communities are, let’s take a look at the top 7 types of online communities.


Top 7 Types of Online Communities

Given the many different types of online communities, we’ve broken them down into a list of the most common and most influential ones. Here are 7 of the main types of online communities you can take a look at:

Brand Communities

One of the most common types of online communities is brand community.

As in its name, brand communities are built around one brand or business. This means there’s a huge amount of variety in brand 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 individuals as a tribe, centered on a shared identity that’s built around the brand. In the community space, members can interact with their favorite brands and brand lovers. This type of online community is designed to generate brand loyalty by gathering all the most enthusiastic customers in one space.

Key characteristics of this type of online community:

  • Brand communities are meant to be fun. At their heart, they’re about celebrating a brand and everything that customers love about it.
  • Brand communities are usually characterized by lots of user-generated content and the community engagement strategy is usually centered on encouraging this type of content.
  • It’s usual to see community engagement ideas like giveaways, competitions, and surveys in this type of online community.

For businesses and organizations, brand communities can be a huge asset for generating leads and fostering loyal relationships. When done right, this type of online community can be a powerful tool for accelerating your business.

Learning Communities

There are many different types of online communities built around learning and knowledge sharing. Learning communities are designed to bring together learners and students into one collaborative space.

Learning communities give learners the chance to ask questions, discuss ideas and concepts and receive feedback from their peers. They’re not just a space for furthering students’ knowledge, they can also be an important source of emotional support during the learning process. A great example of a learning community is HelloTalk. This application lets you chat with language partners via text or voice messages easily.


Key characteristics of the learning community:

  • Learning communities share similar goals for increasing knowledge around a certain topic.
  • They are largely focused on asking and answering questions, setting them apart from other types of online communities.
  • Learning communities allow learners to collaborate on learning material, including sharing resources and discussing problems and challenges.

Of the many types of online communities, this is the one that’s probably most relevant to course creators. Learning communities are a great starting point from which to grow a brand community and membership community too.

Interest Communities

Such kind of online communities is focused on a specific interest, hobby, or passion. They can be immensely fun and thus you should ensure that the content is engaging for members to interact.

One of the best examples of this type of community is Strava. Strava is a fitness app tailored for runners and cyclists. It allows you to record your activities on your feed and connect with others.

Interest communities are also suitable for hosting offline events or private meet-ups. As community admins, you can encourage members in nearby locations to get together or host offline events with lots of exciting activities.

Networking Communities

As the name suggests, networking communities are all about networking! Unlike other types of online communities, networking communities are solely focused on helping members find new opportunities for increasing their network.

This type of online community is built around a certain industry or profession. At the same time, there are also networking communities that aren’t professional at all. For instance, communities of support and communities of circumstance can also be classed as networking communities.

Key characteristics of this type of online community:

  • Networking communities are often discussion-based with users posting questions for advice or support and topics for debate.
  • Networking communities offer members the chance to find solutions to common problems and issues that they’re facing in the chosen topic.
  • Compared to other types of online communities, networking communities are often more formal than spaces like fan communities or brand communities.

While networking communities are classified as stand-alone types of online communities, other types of online communities can include networking activities too. Other communities often double up as networking communities and you’ll probably find that your online community incorporates traits of a networking community.

Social Communities

Among the various types of online communities, social communities are arguably the most common and easiest to recognize. Social communities are exactly that – communities based on building social connections.

In social communities, people gather to chat, share stories and interact. Brands can leverage social communities for marketing objectives, especially in increasing brand awareness. Unlike other types of online communities, they’re not spaces for endless advertising and promotions. Social communities are about sharing insights and making connections rather than commercial acts.

Key characteristics of this type of online community:

  • Social communities vary hugely in size, ranging from just a small, private group of friends to massive communities.
  • You can think of social communities like a virtual house party – it’s a group of people coming together to spend time together and start discussions.
  • You can find social communities on every social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Often other communities incorporate elements of social communities and vice versa. In fact, borrowing ideas from social communities are a great way to make your community more fun and engaging.

Fan Communities

The growth of online communities has made it possible for a very specific type of community to take off – fan community.

Fan communities are based on a shared interest like a movie, sports, or artist. Fan communities focus on making social connections but they’re really centered around one interest.

While some types of online communities are closed and private, fan communities are usually open to all. All you need is to love that thing a lot! If you’re a fan, you can join a fan community. Social media site Reddit hosts many fan communities such as the community for Game of Thrones, with 3.1 million members.


Some creators have begun utilizing fan communities as a way to generate income and grow their personal brand.

Key characteristics of this type of online community:

  • Fan communities are started by fans or creators to build a community around a shared passion.
  • Interactions in this type of online community are almost everything around that mutual interest or passion.
  • Fan communities often involve specific types of user-generated content like fanfic, art, videos, and more that aren’t typically seen in other types of online communities.

Not all brands are suited to the creation of fan communities, but if you’re a creator or artist, fan communities can be a great tool for building brand loyalty and brand awareness.

Support Communities

With this type of community, the goal is to create a peer-to-peer network to offer technical and strategic support.

These groups are helpful in troubleshooting technical issues, in which software developers and other builders need to navigate complex creative challenges. In peer-to-peer communities, users would discuss together on technical or strategic questions before they contact your customer support team. Below is the support community for phpFox’s customers.


This type of workflow can help your support team more time and energy, connect customers and create frequent discussions within your community.


Are you looking to build your online community?

Now you know the top 7 types of online communities, you may refer to this list to pick a type of community that is best fit for you.

If you are interested in getting professional and in-depth advice on building online communities effectively, phpFox is right here for you. It is a feature-rich platform for building online communities of any niche with tons of advanced features like ChatPlus, Live Streaming, etc.

To start creating your own online community from scratch, get in touch with us now!






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