Social media platforms benefit from structural elements. One of the most important ones is the organization of users into groups or communities. This type of structure is needed, as point-to-point networking will not be enough because it lacks a certain amount of collaboration and direction. Groups help you to get a more visible structure to your network and they are also a great unit of analysis of activity and value.

There is actually a significant difference between a group and a community, especially if we are looking at the more defined structures like communities of practice (CoPs). It is definitely clear that not every group created on a technical platform like an ESN system is a CoP. Unfortunately, it is often used as a synonym by those not fully familiar with what it takes to make a group a full community.

A group in the platform is usually a technical concept describing a number of users who have organized themselves. The group is created by some type of owner or administrator, and users are invited or free to join. Members could learn about it from peers, the group administrator, or a system recommendation.

A group could play a very important role in the overall concept of a CoP, but there are many other important elements that make up a CoP, including clear leadership, sponsorship, and roles (and people that actively fill them), as well as dedicated core community members, events, and activities that give the CoP a pulse.3 Without these elements, ...

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