Online communities have been around for over 35 years, but they were mainly for academics, researchers to virtually share knowledge sharing. Of late, new types of online communities have been springing; 

What's different? 

Why is this happening? 

What is driving this growing interest in online communities for professionals?

I'm about to show you 7 reasons why online communities of professionals are growing right now and how you can benefit from this change.

Let's dive right in…

#1 Online Communities Are More Supportive and Meaningful Environments 

Nowadays, social media platforms lack authentic connections; there's lots of abuse (even racial), offensive language, and bullying from people hiding behind fake accounts. On the other hand, online communities encourage meaningful and respectful discussions.

Since there's less pressure for impressing others, members can present themselves in the best light possible while still maintaining their true selves. As a result, they become more self-confident, less intimidated, and are sure their contributions won't be shouted down. With such meaningful, respectable, and communal ways of doing things, these platforms have become highly-attractive for the intangible value members get. 

#2 Online Communities Are Among The Best Sources For Opportunities, Authentic Connections, Multi-Networking, And Growth

Are you a jobless professional looking for work? 

Why not join your industry's online communities? They are amongst the best platforms you can spend your free time connecting with people who realize your value. You can get a job, get alerted where there's a suitable vacancy, or get a direct recommendation. Not only that, since they have members with a shared common purpose, you can communicate and collaborate on projects with others. 

On the multi- networking front, by connecting with like-minded professionals, you 

  • Build your influence and raise your profile as an expert and thought leader
  • Make great friends 
  • Expand your network
  • Gain access to exclusive events in your industry

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If you're starting a business, online communities are also suitable spaces for arranging partnerships, marketing as well as selling out your events. Those running businesses can learn new methods of doing things and get timely advice from more experienced entrepreneurs. 

#3 Online Communities Have Become Essential For Social Distancing And Those Working From Home

With the work-from-anywhere reality, professionals yearning for connection have found themselves joining online communities. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, memberships in real-world social groups were already dwindling. With this shift, don't expect online communities' growth to slow down.

Maybe you're working from home, and you're planning to create a vibrant online professional community; it's not an overnight thing. First, you've got to meet and talk with like-minded people who share that vision. There's no better tool for that than Cafecito! We connect you with individuals in your industry who share the same vision and interest as you. Best part? It's free.

#4 They Create Social Value

Most like-minded people congregate in online communities to share ideas, offer their skills and knowledge, support each other, solve problems, and promote movements. Everyone wants to be part of a community that brings social change,

Consider MedicineAfrica -  an online community of healthcare professionals– whose members voluntarily teach disadvantaged African and Middle East-based medical students. 

If asked, "why are you here?" These healthcare professionals would most likely say it's because their commitment and free services drive significant societal change. On a personal level, these professionals even end up feeling they've made good use of their time and get a good sense of fulfillment. 

#5 Online Communities  Are Top Sources For Tailored and Valuable Content

Online communities have become hubs where experts and professionals in a specific industry connect and feel like they belong. They get to freely share and exchange useful ideas and knowledge about their experiences, as they solve problems around specific areas of interest. Such valuable content continues making these communities grow further as it increases engagement between the members, ultimately strengthening the community and boosting its perceived value.

When you Google search something, you want specific, in-depth, and up-to-date information on it. Where else are you guaranteed to find precisely that if not from open online communities? 

They have a rich stream of fresh and user-generated content that further pulls in other interested professionals who come for content and end up staying for the community. 

#6 They've Become Substitutes For Social Media Platforms 

Nowadays, most social media users are mainly focused on getting more followers and becoming lead voices – in almost everything. Can't blame them though, most times, only opinions and contributions of people with droves of followers and verified accounts are taken seriously. As a result, large social media platforms have become less of communal and meaningful social spaces. They no longer meet most professionals' needs.

The effect?

Most professionals have been forced off to closed online communities, which are better learning and growing environments. People with specialized needs have also started creating private gated online communities, which are more manageable.

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#7 Online Communities Have Become A Part Of Brand Marketing

Almost every company is creating its own community. Why?

Brands have realized that communities are cost-effective and more direct methods of connecting deeply with their online audiences. Consumers don't just want a newsletter; they want to engage with other buyers (or fans) and a deeper interaction with companies they buy from. By linking their community to their website, even new community members will associate the community with the website, business, or company. Here are some excellent examples of brilliant online brand communities.

Through engaging their community, the appetite for meaningful and authentic social connections from consumers is cured, further deepening the brand-consumer relationship. When customers feel connected to a company, they can even become brand ambassadors who

  • Actively assist other customers and members
  • Contribute most of the community's content 
  • Help acquire new members and customers, reducing acquisition costs
  • Increase sales – people trust other people's reviews and recommendations more than advertisements

Beyond that, they can also help companies hunting sales in other niche interest groups or professionals in communities with dedicated interests.

But that's not all;

A community also helps a company boost its online presence, discover trends, identify unmet needs, and get feedback. All these can be used to improve the products and services offered. 

Conclusion

With online communities being fulfilling environments worth people's time and effort, you should also aim to get into one if you haven't. And when you join one, remember to give value to get value. 

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