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New Report Looks at the Rising Influence of Online Communities

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Throughout the pandemic, digital connectivity has played an increasingly important role in how we stay connected, which, for many, has exacerbated their reliance on online groups, with Facebook groups, in particular, seeing a significant rise in engagement.

But how significant are Facebook groups to overall activity, and what role do they really play in our day-to-day interactions? To provide more context on this, Facebook recently worked with researchers from The Governance Lab at NYU to provide new insights into the importance of online communities.

The research was conducted via interviews with 50 leaders of Facebook Groups in 17 countries, along with 26 global experts in online community building. The researchers were also given access to internal Facebook insights, and ran a parallel YouGov survey of 15,000 Internet users in 15 countries.

That’s a broad scope of responses – so what does the research show?

First off, the data suggests that online groups are now increasingly important to connection.

“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.”

NYU groups research

That’s a significant finding, while overall, 77% of respondents indicated that the most important group they’re a part of now operates online. 

NYU groups report

The findings underline the growing relevance of online groups, which enable people to stay connected at all times, and on a broad range of topics.

Digging deeper, the researchers were able to establish four key elements in the growth and resonance of online groups. 

1. Digital technology enables groups to form at unprecedented scale and speed

That’s both a blessing and a curse – having the capacity to connect with far more like-minded and like-interested people can open your world to a range of new opportunities. But that has also lead to the facilitation of hate groups and dangerous movements, with people also able to connect with others who share certain ideologies. Facebook is working to address this element, but used well, the capacity to connect around shared interests is now greater than ever before.

2. Online groups enable marginalized people to build community

Another key benefit of being able to connect with like-minded people is that it enables isolated users to feel less alone, and to establish connections with those with similar experiences. This can lead to strong bonds, which increases the importance of those connections.

3. Online and offline spaces complement each other

The researchers also found common linkage between online communities and real-life connection, which can be another key benefit to establishing digital groupings. By first establishing friendships online, that lends itself to real world meet-ups, which can be key for mental health and community. 

4. The COVID-19 pandemic has put many online groups center stage

And of course, the pandemic has played a role in growing online connections, as people haven’t been able to get out in real life and meet with friends and family as they normally would. That’s increased reliance on Facebook groups for social engagement, which is an important role in community building.

The findings are not ground-breaking, in the sense that many of these trends are likely as you would expect. But they do further underline the importance of Facebook groups, and the power they can have in building relevant connections and communities. Which, for brands, can be an important consideration in how you use groups to build connection with your audience, or how you utilize groups within any outreach strategy. Brand usage is not the key focus of this report, but the findings have implications for anybody looking to use groups within their strategies.

Facebook groups are used by over 1.8 billion people every month, with more than half of all the people using Facebook now members of five or more groups. There are also 70 million people leading these groups as admins and moderators, and the report lays out key lessons and learnings for those looking to become community leaders, and how to provide more support for these users.

There’s a heap of interesting insights for group admins and creators. You can download the full report here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

Amid the various large-scale changes at Twitter, the platform is also working on some smaller tweaks and updates, which may or may not ever get released, but could provide valuable functionality for many users.

First off, Twitter’s testing the ability to search through your Likes, so you can find out who, specifically, has liked your tweets.

That could help you glean more context when reaching out to someone, or just another way to understand who’s responding to your tweets.

And it could be particularly valuable as a research tool for marketers in understanding their audience and who they’re reaching with their tweets.

Twitter’s also testing a new way to filter your replies, which could be handy if you get a lot of responses to a tweet.

Tweet reply sorting

I mean, I’m not sure how many people are getting so many replies to their tweets that they need a filtering option, but for those that are, this could be a simple way to ensure you’re staying up on the most relevant responses and responders, to better manage your engagement.

Finally, Twitter’s also experimenting with new timeline settings, which would provide more control over your timeline and pinned lists.

Twitter timeline controls

Note also, in the middle screen, that Twitter’s developing an option that would enable you to hide your tweet view counts, which would provide another way to manage your activity in the app.

As noted, all of these are in test mode, with Twitter engineer Andrea Conway posting them for public opinion, before exploring further development. But they could be handy, and while they’re not game-changers as such (which may mean they get less priority), smaller tweaks and updates like this could be significant for certain users, and could make it easier to manage your tweet activity.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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