I enjoy a brand of comedy shows that my wife doesn’t particularly enjoy: The Office, Psych, Parks & Rec, Space Force. She will re/watch these shows with me out of love, but recently we attempted to watch Community and couldn’t get through two episodes. Some things miss the mark, and then I spend a lot of time asking myself why.
What is Community?
Like comedy shows, not all social media is created equal, and I think the new Community platform missed the mark (seriously, how much was that url?). About two years ago, I put my information into a web form because I’m curious like that, and two weeks ago I got an invite from the folks at Community for a 15 minute Zoom interview. #exclusive
Of course I set up the interview and was pretty excited, spending about an hour researching the site a bit more to get a feel for it. It’s essentially a texting platform, where a user can send out a mass text message to those that subscribe to them and then reply one-to-one. The goal is to remove the inherent impersonal feel of socials, and avoid advertising. And when you think about it, you might have a few different email addresses, but likely not too many phone numbers. Texting is personal and direct.
Users can segment based on subscriber ZIP code, sign up date, or by groups that are created when a chosen word is replied. (For example, someone texts “beach” or “sand” and they get added into the “surf” group). You can also schedule a text message, which feels a lot like using Buffer. The phone app and web app are all very well thought out and clean. It’s also $99 to use the app if you have 1000 subscribers and tiers up from there.
Jim + Me
Here’s the thing though… I subscribed to a few celebrity Community users, like funnyman Jim Gaffigan. Seeing his name come up when he “texted” was pretty cool, but I realized I didn’t really want anyone sending me a group text. To me, texting is a utility or a way to set up a one-to-one conversation. Jim and I aren’t on that level. Even sending “exclusive” content doesn’t feel exclusive.
The only social platform I use is Instagram, and even that’s a daily love/hate relationship, so I’m aware that perhaps I’m not the target audience for Community. Even at that though, I think it will have a hard time taking off because of how many places we can get the same content from and how many spaces vye for our attention.
At some point we all want to have an impact on a community and we crave a one-to-one connection, but Community misses the human part of communication and that’s what it set out to do. Social media never claimed to be personal, which brings a completely different set of challenges, but they hit their goal in connecting people in a new way.
Community was a fun and expensive experiment that I quickly cancelled, simply because I can find everything I need to know about Jim on Google or Spotify. I’ll stick to emails, or you can text me in a truly one-to-one fashion, because then I know there’s a reason behind the message. Let me know what you think about Community, too, I’m interested in your perspectives!