Virtual community engagement has been rising for nearly a decade. In the early stages of online social platforms, users leveraged popular social sites mainly to broadcast information and share updates. But today, these platforms are more like community exchanges— push and pull spaces where individuals contribute their own content for the purpose of receiving comments, conversation, and feedback.
While community used to be an incidental consequence of our increasingly online world, today, people seek out community in these digital spaces. And as a result, online communities— especially those made up of niche groups— have never been more popular.
These stats drive this point home:
76% of internet users now participate in at least one online community
1.8 billion people engage in Facebook groups every month— and over half of these members belong to at least five groups
On average, community members report investing about $67 annually into their organization, but they receive an average of $614 of value for their investment
Advanced communities see an ROI of 7,071% on their invested capital. This increases with scale
Online communities are good for people and they’re good for business. And that’s why this industry is in the middle of a massive growth cycle.
As the internet has evolved, so have community trends. Let’s look at a few emerging online community trends— and how they’re leading to viral growth
And social media isn’t cutting it anymore
Social media used to be the go-to place for community. But between changing algorithms, constant spam, overly curated content, and tight restrictions, these sites just aren’t providing the rich community space users are looking for.
As a result, 64% of online community users say they visit dedicated community platforms more often now than in years prior. And these platforms are growing as a result.
In the age of disinformation, dedicated community sites are considered more trustworthy
Gen Z, the generation most likely to join community groups on both social media and dedicated community sites, report trusting the information they find on community sites almost as much as traditional news sources, and significantly more than social media.
So not only do dedicated community spaces bring people together in a meaningful way, they’re a trustworthy place that can be insulated from harmful (and divisive) disinformation. Because when real, human moderators lead an engaged, invested group of people, the community thrives.
Every person craves belonging— especially with the rise of remote work
We need authentic, life-giving, meaningful connections. And while many individuals used to get that much-needed sense of community from work, neighborhood groups, or in-person groups, in our post-COVID world, our opportunities to make in-person connections with like-minded people are scarce.
Another study of online groups reported that 98% of members in groups say they feel a sense of belonging to that community. And 91% of these members have given some form of support to the group— including donations or membership dues.
Today, people crave connection so much that they’re glad to pay for access to a niche community where they feel accepted, understood, and engaged.
At TAGFI, we provide online group leaders with the tools, training, coaching, and support they need to launch a thriving community
Your group leadership has never been more valuable. That’s why TAGFI has created an innovative set of digital tools that allow group leaders to activate a community on one of our many niche platforms, or launch their own fully customizable platform.