The pandemic has pushed us to create new ways to stay connected with our communities, and a growing number of people worldwide are finding meaning and a sense of belonging in online groups. According to a 2020 global survey conducted for Facebook by YouGov, in 11 of the 15 nations surveyed, the largest proportion of people said the most important group in their lives is primarily online.
Online communities are significant contemporary organizations that can generate impact and provide members with a strong sense of community and belonging, despite not operating in the physical space. And digital technology enables online communities to form at unprecedented scale and speed.
The sheer number of people on Facebook enables community leaders to make membership available to a global audience. No matter how niche the topic, the investments made to reach new members is a fraction of that of the offline world.
As social distancing measures continue, more people are staying at home, which translates to more people on social media platforms like Facebook – thereby providing a boost to engagement. Even governments are pivoting to virtual community engagement, sharing timely, accurate information and updates with their citizens through online platforms and channels.
Leveraging members as a catalyst for growth
In today’s hyper-connected world, the impact of a single recommendation (or a bad review) can be far-reaching. Having the buy-in from your members would naturally lead to word of mouth marketing, which in turn drives growth in membership.
Besides investing in resources to help scale a community, allowing members to own the responsibility to create their own experiences, taking feedback and understanding their needs can add tremendous value.
The opportunity for members to share their real opinions, in order to create genuine and honest discussion, helps members build trust in each other. When members are given a platform to provide their transparent and instantaneous feedback, community leaders can leverage that information to make decisions and bring about positive change.
For this to happen though, community leaders must make consistent and intentional outreach with members to understand and empower them, as well as capture success stories of members in order to encourage and support the growth of the community.
Empowering good leaders to scale and empower growth
As an extension to leveraging members, communities should also look to further develop leaders to better manage, promote and create authentic, engaging community ecosystems. These leaders can be part of the original founding team, or from members who have indicated that they have a passion or interest to take on a greater role in their respective community.
Once these leaders are identified and are able to commit to helping a community grow, there are resources that they can begin to tap on to further the unique skill sets that a successful community leader needs.
Among a range of support, Facebook provides leaders with educational material through its community website, and a range of tools and recognition to empower leaders to build, scale and connect communities more meaningfully. The Facebook Certified Community Manager Program is one such program that offers training and certification for leaders to establish best practices and standards around community management. Since its launch in October 2020, we have had thousands of people who have enrolled in our online courses, and hundreds of new certified community managers. Starting in March 2021, the program will also be available in several languages, including Indonesian and Thai.
In Asia Pacific, we have community leaders who have successfully completed the program and are now Facebook Certified Community Managers including Maureen from Indonesia who started the Facebook Group “Single Moms Indonesia” as a way of finding solidarity during a challenging time in her life. She became one of the first Certified Community Managers on Facebook to complete the set curriculum and pass the exam.
Additionally, we have programs like the Community Accelerator, which is part of the Facebook Community Leadership Program, a global initiative investing in the leaders who are building communities around the world, bringing people together, offering encouragement, and driving change. Through the Community Accelerator, participants receive growth-related training, hands-on mentorship and funds to grow their community and impact. Since joining the accelerator, Social Connect, which offers a platform for mental health survivors to seek help and share their stories, has doubled its growth, managed to reach over two million people online, and evolved into a business helping companies achieve maximum productivity while ensuring employee happiness.
Online communities are increasingly becoming a viable way to create a positive impact and successfully grow a new venture – particularly for ventures that offer members fulfilment and a sense of belonging. Through a strategic fusion of the resources that are available and a decisive commitment to scale further and engage deeper, more people can get on the track to building and growing a vibrant online community.
This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by Facebook
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