Public Social Networks Versus Private Online Communities

Jyotshana Rani

26th Jan'21
Public Social Networks Versus Private Online Communities | OpenGrowth

Social networking has acquired a new height in the business world. Now, new businesses and even the old ones are joining various social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These social media platforms help businesses in building communities, increasing awareness about brands, connecting with customers, and boost your leads and sales.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ come under public social networks, whereas private online communities include online customer communities, partner communities, and member communities.

Both, public social networks as well as private online communities are similar in the interface and nature of connecting with others online, but there are vast differences in strategies, functionality, and how they are used by your target audience.


Social Networking Sites which you must know

With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, social media platforms should be your first choice if you are thinking of starting your business or want to create brand awareness. According to a survey, more people prefer to follow brands on social media than follow celebrities, and on Instagram alone, 80% of people follow at least one business. And if you are not taking advantage of this platform, you are missing out on a fast, effective, and cheaper way of connecting to your audience. So, here are some popular social media sites that are widely explored by a large number of people.


Major differences between Public Social Networks and Private Online Communities


1. Cost

Public social networks are free of cost, and anyone can create a profile or page of their business or organization. However, LinkedIn has a pricing model, but LinkedIn’s premium accounts provide more access for individual use, rather than for your organization’s presence on the network.

Whereas, Private online communities give paid services. For example, a platform like SocialEngine demands investment for better customer engagement. But, as customer engagement leads to better business opportunities, so the development of such a community is worth it. The main focus of these platforms is addressing the needs of business opportunities, hence it is mainly used by business entities.


2. User

Public social networks can be used personally as well as professionally. Personal social networks are used to follow their friends and family, get information on personal interests and hobbies, and for entertainment. Facebook is a common example of it. When it comes to professional social networks, like LinkedIn, people like to invest their time to network to advance their careers, get updates on brands that they might do business with, and stay up-to-date.

The main focus of Private online communities is on helping people become more successful in their jobs. These communities mainly help in building personal brands, getting answers and support, helping others, stay informed, finding partners, and take advice from experts, among others. 


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3. Structure

Public Social Networks follow a decentralized model where individuals and organizations connect to each other to form the network. Also, discussions in these networks take place on the timelines on the profiles of the individual members of the networks.

 Source: Business to Community 

When we talk about private online communities, it is designed to bring people together around specific topics, issues, and shared values. Each member of the community can maintain their own profile and connect with others in the community. Rather than the timelines of individuals, the discussion areas are centralized groups.


4. Analytics

The importance of analytics in businesses is undeniable, as it helps to utilize data to find new opportunities. In public social networks, the reporting model is built around how people engage your content, updates, and visual media. You can easily track which post is getting more likes, comments, shares, etc. and which is not. This is useful for content planning, but the anonymous nature of this data prevents you from using the information to optimize your communication for specific community members.

You get detailed analytics on social activity and specific participation of a member in a Private online community. These detailed reports give businesses a deeper insight and can be customized to fit specific business requirements. Private online communities are basically built around the needs and interests of the customers of a business.


How to build an online community

Whether you own a small company or a bigger brand, building an online community is very beneficial. The communities can help you in turning your followers into engaged customers, increase the website traffic, retaining customers, and eventually, all these will result in increasing your revenue. After learning these benefits, you must build an online community for your business. Here are the steps to build it.


We, at OpenGrowth, are continually looking for trending startups in the ecosystem. If you want to know any further information about the startup ecosystem or have any mind-boggling ideas, do refer our other blogs.

Jyotsana is very keen to express her views on new topics and wants readers to remember her through her writing. She is passionate about reading and believes that words wield the power of changing the scenario and she uses them to encourage people to the best of her knowledge.