What role does social media play in our everyday life? How can we harness its potential to create positive change? And how can a virtual community impact our lives?
Social media has become a part of our daily lives. In fact, over half of us check Facebook every day and, according to the Pew Research Centre, nearly 90 percent of Americans now use at least one form of social media.
There are two sides to social media; one celebrates our individuality and creativity and the other brings out our worst qualities. Social media can also play a huge role in politics, for example, during the 2016 US presidential election, fake accounts on Twitter played a major role in influencing voters.
A community is defined as “a group of people who share a common interest, goal, purpose, or activity”. Communities provide a sense of belonging, identity, and connection for those involved. Communities also provide a place where members can learn about industry related topics, culture, find others interested in the same things they are and build relationships. To be part of an engaging community provides us with a sense of belonging and being part of a community is without question central to human experience.
Communities can also come in the form of virtual communities enabling conversations among members from all over the world. Virtual community power is a growing movement – with communities across the country and around the world working together to improve places and services.
So, why are they important? A virtual community brings users together and provides them with a quick and easy method to resolve problems, explore products, services, businesses, and opportunities, as well as connect with other members and share content.
Virtual communities have and have had an enormous impact on communication, individual identities, and the very nature of human interactions. Some virtual communities support open discussion forums where people can share ideas and opinions about topics ranging from politics to religion to sports to entertainment and more besides. Other virtual communities provide online games where users can interact with each other using avatars whilst others allow users to create personal profiles where they can store information such as contact details, interests, hobbies, and so forth whether this is for a personal aspect or for a business element.
Have you thought about hosting your own virtual exhibition community platform in your chosen industry? If not, the possibilities are endless – in addition to offering a sense of community, communities also provide a space for people to share their struggles. People can find out about what others are doing, get advice from experts in the field, and gain insight into how they can help themselves and their businesses. Communities offer a place where people can learn about problems and solutions and connect with each other.
So why do online communities succeed?
Some of the reasons communities succeed include strategic planning, updated content, inspiring discussions, high engagement, pathways to build relationships with others, and social capital which helps to build the personal and professional brand of members.
Finally, what value do virtual communities provide to businesses? They can help businesses improve customer service and develop new products and services, they can also provide information about how to best market those products and services by refining marketing and sales strategies. Making resources such as contents, blogs, seminars and contacts accessible via a virtual platform as well as in a twenty-four-hour global manner creates an overall portal for companies to make exposure and brand awareness.
So, is it time to think about joining a virtual community or running your own virtual community in your chosen industry?
This article was written by Katie Bateman of virtualexpo247 and was first published in Pillars of Franchising Magazine here