Report: This is how important online communities are in 2021

During the corona pandemic, the social life of many shifted to the digital space. Together with NYU, Facebook has now published a report on how important online communities are today.

Chatting, video calls or social media posts – the corona pandemic and the associated contact restrictions have shifted digital opportunities to stay in contact with others to the focus of everyday life. For example, the Facebook groups, in which permanent online communities have now formed, play an important role for many people. Together with the Governance Lab at New York University (NYU), Facebook investigated what influence these groups are now having on users’ lives.

The result: A report, in which 50 administrators of large Facebook groups in 17 countries and 26 experts for building online communities from all over the world were interviewed. YouGov also conducted a parallel survey in which 15,000 Internet users from 15 countries took part.

Online communities: The majority of the respondents indicate that their most important social group communicates online

One of the most important results of the report is that more and more people are locating their most important social groups in digital space. A full 77 percent of the study participants stated that. The report says:

In the survey, about a thousand respondents in each of 15 countries were asked whether the most important group they belonged to operated primarily online or offline, or in both those spaces. In 11 out of 15 countries, the largest proportion of respondents reported their most important group as primarily online, and in three of those countries that proportion was 50% or more of respondents.

This result underscores the growing influence of online communities in recent years. And this is no coincidence. Because for example through Facebook groups people can communicate with each other day and night – be it via chat, video or audio message.

77 percent of the respondents stated that their most important social group predominantly communicates online, © Facebook

Four reasons why online communities are becoming increasingly important

Another part of the report deals with the question of why online groups are constantly growing and gaining more and more influence. The report presents four main factors that led to this:

1. Improved technology enables rapid growth of online groups

Facebook alone launched numerous features last year to get in touch with like-minded people and to stay in touch. The users: there are many possibilities to find other users who have the same interests and views. This promotes the exchange and thus the solidarity of the members of the online community.

However, this does not only have advantages. In this way, people who have racist views or supporters of a conspiracy group can come together in Facebook groups. The social group tries to fight this as best it can and, for example, deleted all groups of QAnon supporters: inside.

2. Marginalized social groups can come together in online communities

This is an advantage that results from the fact that like-minded people can find each other more easily via online portals such as social networks than in the non-digital world. With one search and two clicks, users can be found who not only have the same experience but also want to change something in the situation. Members of an online community feel isolated less often.

3. Online and offline groups complement each other

The report also shows that people’s online and offline lives are becoming increasingly interlinked. For example, friendships are created within an online community that also take place offline over time.

4. Covid-19 has driven the growth of online groups

The corona pandemic has also made a significant contribution to the fact that online communities have more and more influence on people’s lives. For a year now, users have not been in a position to exchange views or to come into contact with several people in the same way. Instead of meeting friends and family, many use Facebook groups, for example, to share their thoughts with others.

Online groups: an opportunity for advertisers?

Unsurprisingly, online communities became more prominent in terms of social interaction with other people during the pandemic. 1.8 billion users interact in at least one Facebook group every month. There are many opportunities for advertisers to come into contact with their target group. Because not only can you set up your own groups that thematically fit the brand, but you can also refer to your own suitable products within existing communities.

You can read the whole report here see.

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