There are people who have an abiding interest in a topic that is a little “off the beaten track” or that isn’t wildly popular. It can make it hard for them to find others who share that interest, especially if they live in a small town. But with a computer and Google, it is possible to find a site for a group for just about anything. From trading your goods and services to blogging about Marilyn Monroe, there’s an online community or fan club out there for you.
The purpose of a dedicated online community or fan club is to exchange news and information and to discuss thoughts on a particular topic. A celebrity fan site may have background information on the star, pictures, list of noteworthy accomplishments, information of current projects or sightings and recent gossip. A site like this will also have a forum area where site visitors or members can ask questions, raise issues or make comments.
For many members, online communities are their only outlet for exploring their interest in the subjects that matter to them. The other members of the community become like friends, so eventually the bonds between them no longer center around the subject of the community. Many of these online friends continue the contact off the site, via email and possibly by text or phone. Others would want to, but do not feel safe extending this contact by using personal information like a phone number or private email address.
There are ways to foster relationships formed in online communities between members. You could set up an email address specifically for mail associated to the online community. You could also buy a prepaid cell phone to speak with other members. The easiest and most efficient way is to use a messaging service.
GenieVOX by AllCom is an inexpensive service that gives you a private toll-free number with a message center. Since it is toll-free, no one knows the area the calls are going to and all returned messages display the toll-free number on caller ID. You can send or receive voice messages up to 3 minutes long to any number of people and you can get your messages via phone, text or email immediately, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online community members can all join and exchange the latest info and insights with each other in a more immediate and lively format than email or forums. It also lets you transfer more information than a simple voice mail or text would provide. Best of all, this service is available without a contract and costs less than $5 a month.
Online communities allow us to make and keep friends from around the world while new technology lets us do it in a safe and convenient format.