Rise of Online Communities in 2021

Community Building

Communities are everywhere nowadays. For some people, communities are a place to learn and explore about specific topics or interests. For others, it’s where they discuss personal issues and find comfort among those with similar experiences. We might not be aware of it, but we’re actually part of many communities ourselves — communities made up of family, friends, co-workers, classmates, or groups with shared passions.

Throughout the pandemic, digital connectivity has played an increasingly important role in how we stay connected. As a result, online communities became very popular in the last year, and continue to grow significantly in number today.

Online communities work similar to traditional ones. It’s basically just taking the same principles and applying them in a virtual context. What’s great about online communities, though, is that it allows us to maximize the advantages of technology.

Online community sites are now the go-to places for the growing amount of user-generated content online. And as internet users move away from a “me-centric” type of social sharing to a “we-centric” thread of conversations, online communities are only expected to gain more and more significance to users everywhere.

They foster self-expression and a sense of belonging

Before, social media was the main outlet for people to be themselves — through photos, videos, posts, and other content that represented who they are or how they want to be perceived. Today, a lot of people still express themselves online, but in a more communal environment.

Currently, community sites are considered more meaningful for peer-to-peer connections and fostering authentic relationships. Online communities give people a space to ask questions, learn, discuss with like-minded fans, form connections, and belong to a bigger group.

People find comfort in anonymity

People are more comfortable talking when there’s less pressure to disclose their identity and maintain a positive image. Anonymity is a common feature of online communities, and this positively sets them apart from social media platforms. The point of posting anonymously isn’t to enable negative content, but to give users the freedom to freely express who they are without having to reveal who they are.

They lessen the need for Google search

Most internet users find the consensus from online communities more reliable than influencer reviews, promotions on social media, and sometimes even expert opinion. More and more, you’ll see people interacting inside a community to ask for ideas, tips, feedback, solutions, and even links to specific products. Instead of doing a Google search, people are now more likely to go online and visit a community thread to see if the topic has already been discussed or to start a new conversation.

What does all of this mean for brands and organizations?

Online communities are now becoming a very important marketing touchpoint for brands. Marketers are starting to see how relevant it is to apply an interest-based engagement approach and reach consumers at their points of passion.

Today, a lot of businesses are looking to build online communities that help their customers learn, share, and collaborate with each other — all inside a safe and controlled space. More than just buying a product or a service, people are interested in fostering human connections with brands and their community of customers.

Essentially, if you’re operating a business, this is a great opportunity for you because the community powers itself towards conversations around your brand without you having to spend advertising dollars to engage and re-engage people. According to GWI’s research, customers are actually less hostile against brands on community websites. In fact, brands are expected to be part of the conversation and provide solutions.

Having an online community also makes it easier for your business to understand your customers. It gives you the opportunity to hear thoughts and feedback on your brand without having to ask for it. Even better, you’ll see them propose solutions and tell you exactly what they need and how you can deliver it.

Right now, any company or organization can benefit from having an online community. With a clear goal and the right engagement strategy, online communities can become one of your most powerful marketing channels. Their ability to create relationships between brands and customers makes them a good investment for businesses in almost any type of industry.

As a community management software, Beam.gg provides everything a brand needs to power its online community — from management and moderation tools, to subforums, data analytics, and gamified features. The platform is entirely cloud-based and hosted, which means brands don’t need to worry about upgrading or maintaining software or web servers. It also prioritizes a mobile-first design, which gives users the flexibility to access and manage their community anytime, anywhere.

Build your own online community now at app.beam.gg!

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