Community-as-a-Service: A Business Model for the 21st Century
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Community-as-a-Service is the phenomenon where access to a group of people is valuable enough that it can be considered a marketable product.
Every community-as-a-service comprises two elements:
• A founder (or founders) who creates original content that a community can gather around.
• The community members who come for the original content, but stay for several reasons.
The value that community members derive from CaaS can be broken down into several categories:
1. Learning from the content creator: the direct transfer of knowledge and skills from the creator of the community to the audience.
2. Learning from the community: the opportunity to interact with like-minded people and exchange ideas in a peer-to-peer network.
3. Building your network: providing valuable content to other community members with the goal of building your own community-as-a-service.
Content creators are unofficial leaders of communities. They provide value in two ways:
1. By sharing their knowledge and experience.
2. By enabling and stimulating peer-to-peer sharing within the group.
Putting a community together doesn’t automatically make money. Unless you have a plan in place for who you want in the community and how to delineate between free and paid content, you are not likely to find it worthwhile as a creator.
Relying on a single platform and its unpredictable algorithm. Any platform can lose its popularity, stifle your content, or even close your account with no notice or warning. Diversifying across platforms has proven to be a prudent move for many content creators.
Still, there is another bold step beyond diversification: decentralization. Being able to export your community and shift it across platforms, perhaps using blockchain-like technology, has been proposed as a long-term solution to platform risk.
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