A virtual community could be defined as a social network of people who are brought together and enabled to interact through a particular media, with a possibility of crossing political and geographical boundaries with an aim of chasing after a particular goal or interest. Remarkably, one of the most prominent virtual communities is the social networking services that comprise diverse online communities. In this regard, the conversion of Sporting Publications into an E-Zine version of the cricket magazine would promote the interests of Cricket E-Zine and thus attract subscribers. There are different types of virtual communities and online forums that could be established by Sporting Publications.
There are different types of virtual communities that exist in the current world of communication. These are communities are classified according to their ability depending on their needs and their focus. In this respect, there are three major categories of virtual communities namely; the mall, the bazaar and the specialty shop (Wamalwa, 2007).
The Bazaar Virtual Community
The bazaar community formed the lowest level of virtual community. In line with this, it was argued that this community comprised of member who less understood what they needed and therefore could as well be termed as causal browsers (Wamalwa, 2007). With this in mind, this community could easily be attracted to join and participate at greater length in commenting on cricket game. Whereas individuals in this category of the virtual community were aimless browser, there is need to develop policies or rather strategies that could enable Sporting Publication to capture their attention and focus them on subscribing to E-Zine Cricket magazine. The strategies that are utilized should focus on developing a sense of feeling thus enabling members in this community to focus on moving up the ladder.
To begin with, the bazaar community should be provided with freebies as a way of attracting them to join the mall virtual community. Notably, it has been argued that the bazaar community is guided by the precepts that online goodies should be given out for free. In this respect, creating an opportunity that would allow them to come back again and again for more goodies would be the first step in integrating them into the mall community. Whereas not all bazaar members would be interested to move up the ladder and become members of the mall virtual community, it is important to understand that as an E-Zine cricket magazine, one would not lack a few who would choose to subscribe to this magazine.
Mall Virtual Community
The mall community is more focused as compared to the bazaar virtual community. Remarkably, members in this group have various interests that they wish to pursue online and thus they are able to stick to a particular websites for sometime or make irregular visits (Wamalwa, 2007). This group of virtual members has the ability to connect to others and despite the fact they are not after forming a deep relationship with these members. In line with this, these members need to be motivated to widen their scope of interests while at the same time working on developing relationship with other members that would last.
There are different ways of attracting these members to the products that are offered by Sporting Publications. First, it is important to note that members in this community level need to be encouraged to maintain their habit rather than falling out and seeking for other places where their interests could be met. On the other hand, there is need to encourage them to venture further and focus on developing an interest that would spur them to becoming shop specialty group members. One of the methods that can be used to achieve this is through the introduction of new products that are given a limited period trail status.
Whereas the potential among members of the mall virtual community may be ignored, it is important to note that their impact could transform the business functioning of an online magazine by a greater margin than what is expected. As stated earlier therefore, Sporting Publications should focus on introducing new products that has a limited period of trial after which one can continue using them after fully subscribing. In this way, after using such products, these kinds of browsers will find themselves seeking to subscribe to these products so that they can continue enjoying the services that are offered by a particular website.
The Specialty Shop Virtual Community
In reference to Wamalwa (2007), the shop specialty virtual community comprise of members who are more focused and know what they want. Apart from this, these member have the capability of working together to form viable relationships that enables them to share out their view and thoughts concerning particular issues in the society that they desire to learn. In line with this, there are different ways that could be utilized in order to help these members to be able to maintain their status as shop specialty members.
Since they have attained the highest level of virtual community, there is need to focus on strategies that would create room for them to stay in this particular level. Importantly, their level of satisfaction should be maintained constantly. With this in mind, the quality of the current products should be updated regularly so that whenever they desire to leave and join other virtual communities in other places, they are maintained by the standards of the services they are accorded. Similarly, there is also the need to introduce new products to this group while at the same time giving them special interests and discounts to capture them. Special services would also go a long way in retaining member of this community.
In summation, the three types of virtual community levels play a critical role in enhancing the ability of businesses to market their goods and services online. Following this point, it is important to develop appropriate policies and strategies that would help to retain them while encouraging those at low levels to move to higher community levels.