Most of the businesses build their own community to facilitate discussions within their customers, discussion between employees, customers and potential customers. It doesn’t matter whether businesses decide to develop their own community or become involved in an existing one, they need to understand the membership life cycle of user involvement. Without this understanding, their community will falter and fail.
Lave and Wenger have developed a model that illustrates a cycle of how users become involved in virtual communities. According to that cycle, there are five types of participation trajectory in a learning community:
Peripheral (Lurker): An outside and unstructured participation. They observe the community and view content but do not add to the community content or discussion.
Inbound (Novice): A newcomer and heading towards full participation. They just begin to engage the community. They start to add content and tentatively interact in a few discussions and potentially post their own.
Insider (Regular): Full committed community participant. They consistently add content and discussion as well as interact with other users.