The rise of community thinking
Centuries ago, community life was a matter of course. Since the beginning of humanity, our brains have been programmed to live close to others, share food and tools, protect each other and exchange ideas. We have since moved away from these communal societies and no longer depend so much on our “village” to exist, but the need and desire for community remains.
In July 2021, South Africa was in the grip of a frenzy of catastrophic looting and arson. Three women; Emelda Masango, Mbali Ndhlovu and Natalie Church, took to social media and created an online network of over 70,000 volunteers, sponsors and donors who came together to help rebuild communities, small businesses and lives worst affected by the riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Community has always come naturally to us, and the pandemic has only perpetuated that.
Human beings are wired for and instinctively crave connection and community. At the height of the pandemic, we were reminded of the critical importance of this human connection and our digital communities became more central to our experience of daily life.
The internet has always had thriving, tight-knit communities in every corner. These communities have power and the voices within these communities are growing louder – it’s time for brands to tap into community thinking by listening to and encouraging these communities.
It’s easy to think that an engaged audience on social media is the same thing as a community, especially when the title “community manager” has different job descriptions from agency to agency. Community and audience may be closely related concepts, but they are not the same thing.
An audience, by definition, is a group of people who witness something. A community, on the other hand, is an interconnected group of people who participate in something together:
- A large community thrives beyond the leader, platform, or even product to which it is linked. The standard components characterizing communities are:
- A group of people sharing common interests and passions
- An intrinsic sense of belonging and connection to something greater than the individual
- A sense of caring for community members that drives people to help each other
- Safe shared spaces for interaction, or a set of shared practices that bring the community together
According to the CMX Community Industry Report 2021, 56% of professionals said their organization’s leadership viewed community as more essential since the pandemic began. In 2022, we’re likely to see forward-thinking brands either working to build a community from scratch through the current social platform features available, or leveraging existing creator communities to learn more about their consumers, simplify the content creation and breaking through. the noise.
Here are seven key community categories to get you started:
1. Identity: groups that come together around a common life experience
2. Local: groups that come together to support their local communities
3. Uplifting: groups that inspire and support people
4. Social impact: groups that have an impact by working to solve a societal problem
5. Career: groups that bring people together to share career advice
6. Passion: groups that come together around common interests and shared passions
7. Play: groups that come together around niche topics that bring them joy
When building a community, keep in mind that there has to be a reason for people to go there and there has to be a reason for people to want to stay once they arrive.
Community isn’t just a digital marketing strategy, it’s also a key business strategy. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory of human motivation shows how humans seek connection and acceptance from others. A relationship-based approach in any organization is always going to drive results and better results.
Community-driven thinking will continue to influence business models in 2022, as organizations move from creating a “working family” to creating thriving communities.
When people feel connected to others, there is a responsibility to others and to themselves. You are more likely to stay focused on your mission, achieve the goals you set for yourself, take care of those around you, and most importantly, take care of yourself.
The adage “it takes a village…” still rings true and this year we’ll see more brands and businesses tap into our intrinsic need for community.
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.