Anne Cocquyt had a passion for hosting live, networking events for women in San Francisco – “I just felt like there really needed to be an actual community space for female entrepreneurs,” she says. “Something that would support the women who wanted to build things and put awesome companies out there.”
She started hosting live, in-person events and built an engaged community of women entrepreneurs. The events struck a chord, people loved them. But the excitement fizzled in between.
That’s when she decided to do the same thing, but online. Her answer was The GUILD, an online community with 1300+ members where women entrepreneurs and leaders can access networking opportunities and professional development.
Anne’s members experienced the life-changing benefits that an online community can offer.
Here at Mighty, we’re a cultural software platform with community built-in. So it might not come as a HUGE surprise that we believe in the benefits of communities, mainly because we’ve seen them first-hand.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to 13 benefits of online communities. Whether you’re a business looking to add a community to your offerings, a creator looking to monetize, an enthusiast looking to bring together a small group of people, OR an alumni group or non-profit looking to give your members more, there’s something in this list for everyone.
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
In this article…
1. Connections you won’t find anywhere else
Rae Benjamin was a writer looking for a career, but didn’t want to write novels. Thanks to a screenwriting course in college, she found her calling: to write scripts. So, after a few false starts, she devoted herself to figuring out how to make a career of it.
The results were awesome. A fellowship with the Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, a gig as a writer’s assistant on the Netflix special, Bridgerton, and – her current role – a script coordinator for The Witcher.
But Rae didn’t rest on her laurels. She wanted a way to pay it forward. And the result was In the Cut, a community that helps Black and marginalized creatives break into the television and film industry.
What Rae created with In the Cut is totally unique – a community space you won’t find anywhere else. And that’s why one of the BEST things about online communities is the fact that they can cultivate unique connections that you’d NEVER find anywhere else. We’ve seen communities of all shapes and sizes, created around just about anything that gets people excited.
If you’re looking for something unique, for a set of connections you won’t find anywhere else, there’s a good chance a community exists for it (or if not, it should!).
2. Scaling your impact
Drew Binsky is a YouTube travel vlogger who’s been to all 197 countries in the world, and racked up 3.4 million subscribers along the way. With 5 billion views on his channel, he was looking for an app that could inspire others to travel and connect with like-minded potential nomads.
His answer was to build a community with Mighty. His travel app, Just Go, hit 20,000 users in the first week. And by launching a travel app, Drew’s audience could go to the next level – not just when it came to connecting with him, but also for connecting other travelers. His audience of primarily 25-33 y/o digital nomads used the app to meet each other, trade off travel tips, and meet for live events.
And – maybe it’s ironic that Drew’s travel app and online community now leads to real-life encounters! Here’s a crew at the LA meetup last year.
3. Teaching that sticks
Doug Neill had a passion based on a creative skill that he’d discovered: sketch noting. Sketch noting is visual note-taking, and Doug knew that there must be hundreds of others who’d want to learn this skill. And with a background in teaching, he knew he was a great person to help them do it.
He tried different ways to get his courses out there, but finally launched an online community with Mighty Networks: Verbal to Visual. He uploaded his courses there, and in doing so accidentally discovered one of the benefits of online communities: that courses powered by community are way more effective. Now he doesn’t just have students, he has an online community of learners who are learning from him and each other. He was so inspired by this that when he launched his last course, he decided to teach it live in front of a virtual audience!
Doug discovered what a lot of teachers discover – people learn better in community. And whether it’s an asynchronous or synchronous courses, adding in a group of other learners helps the material stick.
4. Stop fighting an algorithm
Aliza Licht was a former SVP of communications at Donna Karan. When she launched her Twitter account, DKNY PR GIRL, she started sharing career advice for young people. This would lead to a best-selling book: Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill it in Your Career. Rock Social Media, AND a podcast: LEAVE YOUR MARK: Freshly Brewed Career Advice.
In 2021, Aliza decided to create a community dedicated to helping young people succeed in their careers. The result was the Leave Your Mark community, a group that was free to join but required an application. Later, Aliza would add more paid options that included bootcamps and mentoring.
One of the best things about the community, according to Aliza, is that you don’t need to fight an algorithm.
Organic social is basically dead. Being able to curate a room or a group or community whereby you have a hundred percent share of voice when you want to have a hundred percent share of voice is a luxury.
When you post in an online community, your audience sees it. You don’t need to pray to the algorithm gods or beg your friends to “like” it so it will get traction.
5. Get real
Elizabeth DiAlto was always interested in defining womanhood for herself. About seven years ago, she came up with a practice she called Wild Soul Movement – an embodiment exercise meant to get women out of their heads. While she tried a lot of different ways to get people into this practice, the thing that clicked was launching an online community: The Institute for EMBODIED Living.
The Institute offers two mini-courses on self love and wild soul archetypes, monthly Zoom calls, content, and archives of past webinars and workshops. The community is an example of the space for the real, the human, that exists within online communities. You’d never believe how vulnerable and open you can become with a group of people you may have never met in real life – and that’s powerful.
These women are learning when to take up space, when to not take up space. What to say, what not to say. How to hold their own stuff, and not put their stuff on everyone else all the time. If we could do that in here, it can be taken out into their own lives, rippling that out. That’s my bigger dream: Collective healing and liberation.
6. Professional courses that are fun
We talked about teaching above, and the unique benefits of online communities for teaching. Another place we’re seeing this is with professional courses, and there’s no better example than Lisa League’s course to help would-be interior designers ace the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). Her course, QPractice, brings together interior designers and helps them prepare.
Lisa’s community is different from some. While some communities might last a lifetime, this type of community learning is for a clearly-defined moment in time, to help these designers reach the next stage of their career. But instead of studying alone and struggling to find resources, Lisa has brought the resources and knowledge into one place – and she teaches it with exciting cohort-courses that make learning way more accessible.
7. Creating a viable business
One of our favorite things about communities is that they can become really viable business models. Through harnessing a subscription membership model, you get access to recurring revenue that’s regular monthly or yearly membership payments. All this means that you can create a viable business just by being yourself and starting a conversation around something you care about!
8. Learning to use a product
When Lee and Sarah Rubenstein launched an Instagram business selling a subscription box with art supplies, it took off. But even as their subscribers grew, they wondered: How can we bring these people together?
The answer came in the form of an online community, ArtSnacks Mix, which they sort of imagined becoming the “cool art room in high school.” It’s a place for artists to come and share what they’re working on. It’s a community that takes the fun of the ArtSnacks Box that people buy on Instagram and connect it to shared learning and play. And that’s awesome!
Lee Robertson was the former CEO of a London-based wealth management firm, and he saw the need for networking opportunities in the financial sector. But the UK had also created new rules that limited how financial professionals could socialize.
Robertson was looking for a way to create networking opportunities for people in finance – all while following the new regulations. His solution was an online community called Octo Members, a networking community that also offers videos and podcasts, articles, workshops, and daily check-ins.
10. Giving access to care
Dr. Ashley Southard and Dr. Julie T. Anné were running A New Beginning, a treatment center for eating disorders in Arizona. But their practice had very real limits on who it could help, both because of the practical caps on programs and also because not everyone could afford it.
When they launched a community, The Healthy Weight Out Circle of HOPE, it let them bring their expertise to people who might otherwise never have a chance to access it.
11. Cool live events
We talked about Anne Cocquyt’s story in the introduction. One of the powerful things about The GUILD community was that it took something people loved (live events) and made it totally accessible.
By having an event platform built into your online community, you can collect RSVPs, notify your attendees, and even charge admission. And you get all the excitement of a live event, but all the accessibility of a virtual one.
12. Monetizing a social following
Martinus Evans created a movement on Instagram. With his handle @300poundsandrunning, he has a following of almost 60,000 people. And his story? Martinus saw that there were SO MANY running groups out there, but so few dedicated to people like him – people he calls “back of the pack” runners.
He turned to Mighty and launched a community dedicated to beginner runners, the Slow AF Run Club. And he made $140,000 in his first year! Martinus’ vulnerability in sharing his story struck a chord, and his community is full of people who aren’t the world’s best runners, but they’re doing it anyway.
Martinus’ story illustrates the power of your story in an online community. But is also shows that an online community is a fantastic way to monetize a social following!
13. Get customer feedback
Last, and DEFINITELY not least, an online community is also a great way to get customer feedback. The women’s apparel brand, Oiselle, learned this. They launched an online community, Oiselle Volée, as a place for women to come together and get running tips.
And they unlocked something amazing. The pandemic hit, and all of a sudden they realized that their members didn’t just come for running tips. They were meeting friends, getting support and encouragement, and basically finding the community that they were missing in lockdown.
The Oiselle Volée community is an example of a brand community at its best. They don’t just focus on selling, they create space for their users to thrive and grow. And as a side-benefit to all this magic, Oiselle has a dedicated group of 3,500 loyal fans who will give them immediate feedback on new products and ideas for future ones!
Okay, there are really so many more benefits to an online community than just these 13. In fact, if you’ve never been in one, you’re missing out. The friendships, the connections, the magic in finding someone JUST like you, and that magic in connecting to someone NOTHING like you. It’s all there. It’s all amazing.
So really, the question to ask is… What are you waiting for? You can join an existing community. But you can also start your own! We’ve created an awesome cultural software platform that lets you bring content, community, courses, and commerce together. And with Mighty’s flexible Spaces, you can add in live streaming, courses, events, discussions, messaging and chat, member profiles, polls & Q&As, and more! Come get started for free for 14 days and see what kind of community you could build!