Email image popup

Community Curious?

Share your email and we’ll send you our 6-part educational series, which kicks off with our groundbreaking framework for the “Life of a Community” that will help you look around the corner.

BONUS: We’ll also include thousands of dollars of bonuses and extras — absolutely free—including expert scripts and step-by-step guides!

Thank you!

Your first free resources will be on its way to your inbox soon.

We can’t wait to see what you create.

Something went wrong!

Please, try again later.

Community
Courses

11 Types of Online Communities That Thrive

Stuck on what type of online community to build? Here are 11 ideas to get you started!

Resources confeti background

When she arrived in Boston for grad school, Sheena Collier didn’t plan to stay. Boston was known as a place that wasn’t really welcoming to people of color. But after graduating from Harvard, her career took an unexpected turn; it kept her in Beantown.


After a decade of leading a ton of in-person, community-building initiatives in Boston, Sheena started posting about her experiences under the hashtag #BostonWhileBlack. This grew into a thriving online community of over 500 members under the same name! (Read the whole story here)


Sheena’s story shows the amazing power that online communities have to connect us. After all, the need for community and connection is almost in our DNA.


Online communities are powerful and let you build deep, real relationships with like-minded people around the world or in your hometown.


In this article, we’ll show you 11 types of online communities that thrive. Plus, we’ll tell you what makes them work and some common pitfalls to watch out for.


11 Types of Online Communities that Thrive


1. Mastermind Group
2. Group Coaching
3. Coaching Community
4. Micro-Community
5. Content Community
6. Online Brand Community
7. Online Forum
8. Community of Practice
9. Event Community
10. Religious Community
11. Shared Purpose Community


1. Mastermind Group


When Napoleon Hill started studying successful entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford in the early 1900s, he realized that success didn’t happen in a bubble. He was so impressed with the value they got from exchanging ideas with like-minded peers that he coined the term mastermind group.


Mastermind groups are common among entrepreneurs, many of whom attribute success to walking through their journey with like-minded people. But mastermind groups are growing in popularity elsewhere too, dedicated to things like career excellence or personal development.


Unlike group coaching, where the leader directs advice and energy to the members of the group, in this type of online community members help each other, offering ideas and lessons from their experience.


Ultimately, walking through a difficult journey together while sharing knowledge and encouragement is what makes a mastermind great!


What makes a mastermind group thrive



  • Building trust and community

  • Hearing ideas from people who have solved your problem before

  • Equal power dynamics between members


Common mistakes to watch for



  • An unclear mission or focus

  • Judgment, pushiness, and other friction between members

  • Members at very different stages of growth


Learn more about mastermind groups


2. Group Coaching


Unlike mastermind groups, group coaching requires a strong coach to lead the group through a similar transformation experience.


But that’s not to say group members don’t encourage and share ideas with one another! The best group coaches aren’t just teachers, they’re facilitators who can coach and lead the conversation at the same time, creating space for members to learn from each other.


The power of group coaching for coaches is that it's scalable, unlike one-on-one coaching hours. A group coaching community is the perfect type of online community for coaches who want to get off the 1:1 treadmill and get some of their time back, or for coaches who serve clients who can’t afford individual slots.


Coaches can scale their impact even more by digitizing parts of their offerings into an online course, and then using group coaching sessions to supplement! Read more about The Importance of Community in Online Courses.


The power of group coaching for members is that they can go through a transformation with peers, and cheer each other on.


Depending on personality, some people prefer group coaching for the community and the accountability aspect. Some people hate it and want a coach all to themselves.


What makes group coaching thrive



  • Community and accountability

  • Members going through a similar transition

  • A coach who can help people to feel heard and facilitate conversation


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Judgment and attention hogging

  • Members with vastly different needs


Learn more about group coaching


3. Coaching Community


While it's trickier than building a group coaching community, coaches who work 1:1 can create healthy communities too! (Plus, some coaches do both group and individual coaching.)


If you find yourself coaching people with comparable life situations, who need to go through a similar transformation, you can consider supplementing your practice with an online community.


This lets your coaching clients go on their journey together, and gives them an extra touchpoint to ensure they will be successful!


What makes an online coaching community thrive



  • Clients with similar experiences or life journeys who are willing to talk about it outside their coaching hours

  • A place where people feel safe to work out what they're learning in coaching

  • A clear ideal member (ie. forty-something moms starting businesses for the first time)


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Members who are in completely different places

  • Members going through a deeply personal and private transformation or who are not willing to talk about it


Learn more about online coaching


4. Micro-Community


After growing a profitable floral design shop, Kathleen Drennan realized that many of her fellow florists were great with flowers, but not so great with business. She decided to use her expertise to help florists succeed, and created the 6-week #ForFlorists Business Masterclass. You can read her story here.


Kathleen’s Mighty Network could be considered a micro-community.


A micro-community is a small, online community, with less than 30 people, led by a creator who will teach members to master a special topic, interest, passion, or goal.


The small community allows members to form strong ties as they walk through a transformation together. (There’s some overlap here since mastermind groups or group coaching could be considered examples of micro-communities.)


Micro-communities are usually a significant investment for their members. This higher price point keeps members engaged, holding them financially accountable for their own transformation (people value what they pay for). Usually, micro-communities require a learning journey of some sort, and they often include in-depth, live instruction.


What makes a micro-community thrive



  • Members who are all in, and the high price point guarantees it

  • Members are all dedicated to mastery of something that will take work

  • Clear learning objectives, and in-depth teaching


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Low cost, too many members, anything that threatens the small, tight-knit group

  • Lack of a clear ideal member or lack of a clear understanding of what transformation members want


Read more about micro-communities


5. Content Community


Content communities are spaces where creators with common interests come together to share their work, such as images, videos, or text. Community members can engage, comment, share, like, and otherwise give feedback.


Many content communities exist on or across major social media platforms. The platform itself is not as important as the shared interests that create the community.


While content communities can grow up organically on social media, and creators often do their work for free, a dedicated online platform like Mighty Networks allows creators to earn more from their work and provide a better community-building experience than a social media platform. (Learn how.)


What makes a content community thrive



  • Shared interest in the content, whether it's cat videos or drone photography

  • The ability for creators to get encouragement and constructive criticism

  • Growing connections between creators


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Negativity, too much criticism, lack of safety to be vulnerable

  • A platform that doesn’t support a good user experience for sharing and engaging with content


Learn more about content communities


6. Online Brand Community


An online brand community, similar to a customer community, is built around people who purchase or have an interest in a common brand, product, or service.


In general, there are two types of online brand communities:



  • Users who have fallen so in love with a brand that they are willing to devote some of their online energy to talking about it.

  • And/or, some products are so complicated or specialized that members need a place they can go to learn and get support.


In both of these cases, thriving online communities have sprung up. Some of them live on their brand's website, and some of them are dedicated fan or support communities hosted elsewhere.


In case it’s not obvious, if you have communities of dedicated users who are willing to spend a lot of time learning to get the most out of your product or service, you probably have an amazing brand.


What makes it thrive



  • A great online platform dedicated to a brand people care about

  • A product that benefits from ongoing customer education or extensive knowledge to master

  • Users willing to devote time, often for free, to talk about your product or service

  • A team dedicated to building community with users (if hosted on the brand website)


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Overmoderation, one-sided corporate conversation, or shutting down criticism.


Learn more about online brand communities


7. Online Forum


An online forum is a community built around conversation and sometimes even debate. There may be a crossover with other types of communities on this list; for example, many brand communities are essentially online forms for customers to ask questions and get help.


Social media platforms reddit and Quora are examples of online forums. Both of these have devoted users who carry on conversations, answer questions, share knowledge, and upvote and downvote responses.


These platforms may be huge. But don’t be fooled; the essence of any great forum is community!


Even these giants thrive because of their sub-communities, not their millions of users. At their core are groups of people who care about the same stuff. And that's what makes it work!


That’s why an online forum doesn’t have to have millions of people. In fact, you can build your own and get the conversation started.


What makes it thrive



  • Shared interests & engaged members

  • Clean platforms that organize conversations well

  • Mutual respect


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Judgment, negativity, or general lack of respect

  • Personal attacks

  • No clear focus of conversation


Learn more about online forums


8. Community of Practice


Communities of practice consist of people who are working in a shared field who want to engage with peers. The community is about relationship building, but also about knowledge exchange and sharing best practices for their work.


Online communities of practice are common for online specialties like digital marketing or graphic design. But they're also becoming more common for offline work, especially for professions that require growth and specialization (i.e. health care or finance).


One example of a community of practice that lives on Mighty Networks is Octo Members, home to over 2,000 UK finance professionals! It helps members learn from one another and grow their knowledge, but also to find a valuable community among other finance professionals. Read the whole story here.


Watch this space, because there is a ton of potential for even more online communities of practice, both global and local, in the coming years!


What makes a community of practice thrive



  • A shared knowledge base with members who want to learn from one another.

  • A field that requires ongoing growth and professional development

  • Mutual respect and engagement


Common mistakes to watch for



  • A focus that is too broad (ie. "family doctors in Oregon" might be better than "health care workers." "Executive career coaches in San Diego" might be better than "career coaches")

  • Lack of willingness to learn or exchange ideas


9. Event Community


Once upon a time, long ago, people used to show up at a conference or event, go all in for a couple of days, and then head back home and not think about those folks until the next year.


The pandemic has completely changed the way we think about doing events. They moved online.


And the increase in virtual events meant that hosts had to be creative to replicate the types of conversations and engagement that people used to get while awkwardly trying to balance a coffee in one hand and a plate of pastries and an event booklet in the other.


With virtual events came all sorts of neat online opportunities to connect--no coffee spilling required. Online events can have breakout discussion rooms, casual networking times, and even virtual environments where you can walk around and “bump into” people.


But do you know what’s even cooler than this? The event is no longer something that lasts a weekend. Instead, the discussion can start well before and can carry on long after it's done, and thriving online communities are being built around both live and virtual events!


So take that conference you used to LOVE going to and imagine that you can carry those conversations on and keep building relationships after it’s done.


This is the power of an event community.


Learn how to host a virtual conference.


What makes it thrive



  • A great platform that facilitates different kinds of engagement

  • Attendees who want the conversation to continue (which isn’t true of every conference)

  • A community manager or conference organizer to keep the engagement flowing.


Common mistakes to watch for



  • No structure or leadership

  • A subject people don’t actually want to talk about


Read more about finding the best virtual conference platform


10. Religious Community


Flipping through the channels, you might be familiar with seeing a religious service of some sort on TV. This has been the norm for a few decades.


But more and more religious communities are also moving online. And as the pandemic decimated in-person attendance, mosques, churches, temples, and synagogues had to figure out new ways to bring people together.


Enter, the online religious community.


Online communities give religious groups a chance to keep people engaged throughout the week, have important conversations, and provide support. Plus, the ability to host video or stream a service means that people who can’t or don’t want to travel to attend a service don’t have to.


Moving forward, it will become completely normal for many religious communities to adopt a hybrid or even completely online model.


What makes an online religious community work



  • Engagement. People can watch sermons on YouTube, but people attend a service for the feeling of connection.

  • Consistency. If you’re creating an online religious community, there needs to be consistent content and community building.


Common mistakes to watch for



  • No engagement. The power of an online religious community isn’t the information, it’s the connection. If you can’t build this, people won’t keep coming back.


11. Shared Purpose Community


The final type of online community we’re going to talk about here is a shared purpose community. This is a community that comes together with a view to getting something done in the world.


They share a common purpose, for example, to sponsor a refugee or launch an after-school program for kids. They usually come together for a short to intermediate amount of time, working collectively to get something big accomplished.


What makes a shared purpose community thrive



  • A common vision or goal that can be accomplished in a set period of time

  • Members dedicated to the cause, willing to work together


Common mistakes to watch for



  • Lack of focus or time horizon

  • Members who aren’t committed or engaged


Conclusion


Whatever you need to build online, however you want to bring people together, chances are one of these 11 types of online community will work for you.


And did you know that Mighty Networks is the perfect place to host each and every one of these?


Don’t take our word for it.


Try it out for yourself.No credit card required.


Start building your own thriving online community for free today!


Now read: How to Create a Virtual Community in 5 Easy Steps

Join Mighty Community

Learn the principles of Community Design™ (and see them in action) alongside thousands of creators and entrepreneurs. It's free to join!

Join Now