Why are communities so important?
This article was written before COVID-19. How exactly has the pandemic, and in particular the large-scale adoption of hybrid work, impacted communities and the need for communities? Visit 2022 article on Why community engagement is important in the hybrid age.
We are living in the most connected time in human history and yet, many of us feel isolated. Being lonely and being alone is not the same thing. Loneliness is a purely subjective individual experience. The common stereotype is that loneliness only happens to people who do not know how to talk to people or how to behave around others. But loneliness can affect anybody because it is a part of our biology.
Loneliness is a bodily function like hunger. Hunger makes you pay attention to your physical needs but loneliness makes you pay attention to your social needs. Your body cares about your social needs because millions of years ago it was a great indicator of how likely you were to survive. Being together meant survival, being alone meant death. To avoid that your body came up with social pain. A sort of early warning system alerted you that you’re isolated and made you find ways back to your tribe. That is why rejection hurts and why loneliness is painful as well.
Whether you like it or not, communities are the most important social units of our life. We can´t thrive in life without good relationships. And this is why communities matter and they always will be – the sense of belonging is a part of us. In some countries, they realized that the problem of loneliness is seriously underestimated. In October 2018 the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May, launched Government’s first loneliness strategy. And Minister for Loneliness, Tracey Crouch, is responsible for fulfilling this strategy.
If you want to learn more about loneliness, check out these videos:
- Loneliness by Kurzgesagt
- Can Loneliness Kill You? By AsapSCIENCE
OK, so this is the main reason why communities matter and in their broadest sense they always will. Let’s specifically focus on business communities. In the world of strong competition, having a healthy community around a business (product, service, etc.) means a powerful competitive advantage. There are many reasons why companies build a community and care about it a lot.
- Brand awareness and growth. The main reason companies engage with their audience is to grow, meaning they hope to gain popularity and engagement. Spreading the word by faithful community members is one of the most effective ways to raise your brand awareness. And do not forget – a community is part of a business strategy, not only a marketing strategy!
- Retention. People who are engaged in a community are more likely to become long-term customers.
- Relevant feedback. If your community is healthy, community member will more likely give a relevant feedback and insights on how you could improve your product or service because they care about it.
- Increasing sales. People who are part of a business community are likely to buy more of your product or service.
CMX came up with the SPACE Model. It is a framework for defining your online community´s business value. Have a look!
Reasons mentioned above are reasons why a company might invest in community building. To build a meaningful community, the purpose of the community has to meet business objectives and also members’ objectives. That is why we have to answer one more question – Why do people become a part of a community?
- Connection. As written above – people join communities to connect with those who share the same beliefs and values to avoid loneliness.
- Learning. People love learning something new and engaging in a community can help them meet like-minded people with the same interests, know-how, desires, etc.
- Access. For some people, community is an access to resources like specific know-how, people who are hard to reach, unique experience and discounts.
- Recognition. People want to be acknowledged and some communities enable it very well.
- Entertainment. Everybody loves being entertained by taking part in the community.
- Contribution. People care about the environment more and more. They want to create a positive impact. Through a community, they can contribute to something big and positive.
These reasons why people become a part of a community are inspired by a survey conducted in November & December 2017 by co-matter.
"The value of community to a business is so much more than just loyalty. Loyalty and retention are the table stakes. The real opportunity is in empowering those loyal customers to take action and contribute to the brand mission." by David Spinks
“Being part of a community and learning together is the best defense that we have against feeling anxious, fearful of the future, and feeling irrelevant. The world needs more real communities where people help each other, are there for each other, and assuage fears. Get out there and contribute to your community however you can, in real life and online.” by Maria Ogneva.