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Are social media/network platforms fertile ground for community building?

I talk a lot about why I choose to build community in all-in-one platforms. But can a social media platform be a good place to build community? Yes and no.

Yes, a social media platform like LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, or IG is a fantastic place to find new community members.

No, a social media platform is not the best place to host and foster your community anymore (it used to be).

Let’s dig in.

I cut my community teeth in the era of The Facebook Group. When I built my first brand community there was one “affordable” all-in-one community platform option on the market and it was unimpressive to say the least. At the time, building your private online community on a social media platform was really the only good option because:

  • There were no sleek, affordable, simple community platforms out there.

  • People were hesitant to join a community that made them create and engage in activity in an unfamiliar platform. (You really had to go to where they were already gathering and pray to God you could distract them into your content.)

  • We were all conditioned to value building an audience over fostering a community.

Fast forward to today and each of these reasons has changed drastically and will continue to change over the next decade.

Today there is a TON more availability of community platforms and tools

I’ve officially given up on trying to keep track of all the tools out there to help build an online community, but I dedicate vast amounts of energy to monitoring the market for all-in-one community platforms like Circle and Heartbeat. There are new platforms popping up every quarter, the competition is fierce, and the platforms keep getting better and better. If you’re looking for one place to host content, conversation, and events for your community, we now have options available to us.

Today people are willing to enter a new digital experience for a valuable experience

There was a time where the general public was hesitant to create any new accounts and engage in a platform that was unfamiliar to them. As the technology has evolved and, most importantly, new and better options have become available, people are way more willing to enter a new digital territory if they believe there will be value for them there. In fact, they are more often looking for ways to get off of or lessen their time on social media than seeking new opportunities on the platforms.

The world is shifting from an audience-centric to community-centric strategy

Because the digital landscape has been dominated by social media platforms where the algorithm-defined value came from the volume of your following, it’s understandable that these platforms conditioned us and our members to value speaking to an audience over fostering a community (which, btw, your audience is not your community). They trained us to do this. This public perception is slowly shifting in large part due to the statistics on anxiety and depression and their correlation to social media platforms. Where these social media platforms saw a fork in the road (community to the right and audience to the left), they chose fame and broadcasting over depth and connection. There is a small but growing movement to use technology to build more intimate spaces that foster the connection and belonging we all hoped social media could facilitate (but didn’t).

Social Media Platforms are still fantastic for finding members

While I believe the majority of our energy should go towards building private communities, building an audience is still important for all the reasons that businesses have social media accounts across the board. Creating awareness for why people are gathering in your community and who your community for is critical for attracting the members who will make your community that much better. Sharing content or events on social media platforms is a great way to stir up interest and curiosity and lead people into a more private experience.

In summary:

The future of community building is happening in all-in-one private online communities and one great strategy for finding new members is through your social media platform of choice. Finding the right time to migrate your community is never easy, but I have another post on that coming soon. To not miss it, make sure you subscribe for a monthly roundup of all content coming out of Ember below.

And if you’re curious about what it takes to move your community into an exclusive community space, book a discovery call today.

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