The Future of Community is NOW
Welcome back everyone – we do hope you’re finding ways to enjoy the last of the Summer; even if it’s a small BBQ with you and your cats on your balcony. We’ve certainly had some time to think about how social media and community management have changed in recent months. In particular, we’ve been looking at how the pandemic and quarantine will change the future of not just our industry, but others as well.
Change is here – this we can agree on. Your business strategies will require change as well. The more prepared your online social and community strategy is, the easier it will be to reap the benefits of a strong online community. And we have a few predictions that should help you, and your organisation, with your transition to post-lockdown business success.
One of the biggest observations we’ve made has come when watching positive changes unfold within traditional media. For example, This article from The Drum points out, and asks:
In recent weeks racial inequalities have not only been emphasised by instances of police brutality in the US, but also by data from both the UK and North America which has shown ethnic minorities to be at much greater risk of contracting (and dying) from Covid-19. Amid this urgent public health emergency, what part can ad agencies – and healthcare clients – play in enacting meaningful change?
To achieve change, pharmacologist and health economist, Claire Gillis, shares the following recommendations, which have already begun to take root:
“…agencies and brands need to bring stark, uncomfortable data “back to the fore” to understand the impact this is having on individuals and build their strategies around that. Only then, Gillis argues, can brands educate and support populations who might be at a “disadvantage” and potentially put pressure on governments and corporations to change the way they deliver healthcare.
As we looked at our immediate media consumption, we began to see shifts in traditional advertising related to Covid-19 safety precautions and inclusionary public service announcements on Television.
While we haven’t seen this kind of change put into large, actionable content in online communities just yet, we predict that in the future the need for large-scale online content and engagement strategies will be necessary in order for a brand’s online environment to thrive.
Below, we outline our predictions for the future of Online Communities and what that means to you and your business.
What will this look like within your organisation, where your focus should be and how these changes will bring a much needed new life in this brave new world:
- Diversity in teams – Community Managers and their teams are the experts in translating and telling the stories of your entire community. Your support and moderation teams will naturally become more diverse as well as a direct result of changes to the community itself. In addition, in order for these vital roles to speak the language of your community, the communication will need to be as inclusive, diverse, relatable and understandable as your diverse community.
- Online Communities won’t replace real world interactions, but they will become much more integrated. Quarantine meant a surge in computer purchases at the beginning of lockdown. As more and more socioeconomic and culturally diverse individuals were forced into online as their means of communication, they will have found valuable relationships built within the online space. They won’t give these up just because they’re able to go out again.This will increase the need for Community Management experts to nurture the relationships. And it will be a necessary addition to traditional brands not well-versed in online engagement, as well as those already well-established with an online presence.
- Community Management as Executive. This is long overdue. Community Management will need a seat at the Director’s table, next to and alongside Marketing, rather than being represented by your Marketing head. This may sound like too many cooks spoiling the broth, however the community will require a paradigm shift in your strategy from the top on down. Ensuring your members’ voices are heard at the executive level is best translated by the team living in that community every day…which will be best represented by your Chief Community Officer.
- Traditional Industries long suspicious of an online presence will adapt, or lose out. We know it can be somewhat scary and you’re a little bit apprehensive with the thought of speaking directly to your public online; which is why we’re here to help ease those concerns. Having a strong online presence which includes support, engagement and evangelism isn’t something to be put off for the future. The future is now, and having a strong team of experts in Online Community Management will help make this transition easy and pain-free..
The thing with online communities is that, even when there is a return to a somewhat ‘new normal’, and the general public is out socialising again, it won’t mean they abandon their online communities. People inherently become emotionally attached to these groups because they invested a lot of time and energy into building their online relationships.
Therefore, the need for Online Community Management won’t be a phase, it will be a necessary department for brands, organisations and traditional businesses to include in their business strategies.