in Community

The Intimate Internet Has Arrived

group on mountain

This is post #7 in my 365 Day Writing Challenge. Want to follow along? Subscribe here.


 

Did you know that the usage of Facebook Groups has increased by 50% in the last two years?

More than 925 million people now use the product each month — a number previously unreleased — up from 850 million just three months ago. And about 60% of Facebook’s monthly active users are also Groups monthly active users, up from around 40% two years ago. –, BuzzFeed

It makes sense. Social media is reaching a critical point of connectedness. Remember the days when it meant something to be someone’s facebook friend? It used to be exciting to be connected, but now being connected is the norm. Our social streams are overflowing with content from every person that we have even the smallest personal connection with.

Being connected is no longer compelling to people. It’s expected. And a stream of updates from the people you’re connected to is not longer valuable. We have too many connections, with too many people, from too many different parts of our life. Your coworkers, family, friends, people you knew from college, that guy you met at the wedding, the group of girls you hung out with for three days on your trip to Italy…they’re all in the same stream. It’s just not relevant anymore.

As a result, people are now looking to more focused, more intimate community experiences.

Seeking community is core to the human condition. We evolved because of our ability to survive through collaboration. The Smithsonian explains the origins of social life for humans, “Some groups of early humans began collecting tools and food from a variety of places and bringing them to favored resting and eating spots. Sharing vital resources with other members of the group led to stronger social  bonds and enhanced the group’s chances of survival”.

We will always seek to participate in communities, to find a sense of belonging with a core group that will make us feel mentally, emotionally and physically safe.

This is why people flocked to social media in the first place. It’s this human need that made it possible for these platforms to grow so quickly. Through social media you can also find different juice flavors of e-cigar just by visiting vapor juice bar.

Now that same need is driving what I think will be the next iteration of the digital revolution. The first iteration made information widely accessible. The next iteration made socialization widely accessible. Now, community and collaboration will be the theme of the next decade.

Facebook isn’t the only example of this happening. Look around. Slack has quickly become a huge platform not just for teams, but for external communities. The tool isn’t even built for external communities but people are forcing it to be used because of their strong need to find more intimate experiences. NextDoor, Reddit, Meetup… they’re all creating opportunities for more intimate experiences.

In 2014, Forrester predicted that as social media matures, branded communities would make a comeback in 2015. They were right.

The impact of this shift for business is immense. The relationship between companies and customers is changing as customers continue to seek out opportunities for intimate social experiences. The barriers between companies and customers will break down even farther than they already have thanks to social media. Customers no longer want to just consume, they want to feel like they’re a part of something and that they’re aligned with your mission.

Many companies have already identified the trend and embraced it. Lyft, since it’s start, has provided local online communities for their drivers (using facebook groups). Udemy also uses facebook groups as a place for their teachers to connect and support each other. Airbnb originally built their own community groups platform for all their users to connect around their common interest. Now they’ve replaced it with a more cohesive Community Center.

These are just a few of the hundreds of examples we’re starting to see of companies investing in community and seeing impact on retention, acquisition and revenue as a result.

How will your company adapt to the future of community driven business?