Community has never been more important than now. The last few years have been rough for so many of us, but what got many of us through were our amazing friends and colleagues. When we couldn’t meet face-to-face, we all connected online instead. As we look at the 2023 social media trends, this is one to watch.
The nature of our communities and our friendships is changing.
We’re more comfortable moving between online and offline social and work spaces, and we’re focusing more on the people who really matter to us.
- In the US, 41% of Americans said they had three friends or fewer. In 1990, 33% of Americans reported having 10 or more friends – this figure had dropped to 13% by 2021.
- In the UK, 26% of people said they had friends they’d never met in person. 40% percent said they’d lost contact with some friends since the start of the pandemic, and 14% said they wouldn’t be getting back in touch.
- Another UK survey (2022) revealed that 32% of people had fallen out with friends or family during the pandemic (55% for young Londoners). Sixty-eight percent of people who said they felt their mental health had improved during the pandemic reported losing seven friendships since 2020.
These principles apply to our online social networks, too.
TikTok has been fantastic at creating communities, and continues to go from strength to strength. From #BookTok to the more niche #WitchTok, people come together around the topics they love, using hashtags to share content. This is something Chloe Mathieu Phillips talked about in her post last year on How Brands are Creating (and Contributing to) TikTok Communities.
While Twitter used to be a place for people to form and join communities, Elon Musk’s takeover has caused a lot of disruption. We’ve seen groups of people migrating to other platforms (sometimes multiple platforms) like Mastodon, Hive, cohost, Tumblr, and Discord, and taking their friends with them.
Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are all improving the community features on their platforms, which Jess Martin highlighted in her post for our blog, Communities on Social, in November.
How can your brand create a feeling of online community on its pages in 2023?
There are some key things you can do to create a real sense of community on your social media pages:
- Use social listening effectively to understand what’s important right now to your fans and customers. It may have changed over the last few years. Insights from your listening programme will really help you build communities around the topics people care about.
- Find the main platforms that your communities already use. For example, entertainment and gaming brands probably have dedicated subreddits that would welcome relevant brand engagement; other brands may be better suited to contributing to TikTok hashtag-based communities.
- Explore the new features on sites like Instagram and YouTube to support your community, for example by involving creators and community members in creating content (or even managing the community).
- Set the community’s culture and purpose. Why are your fans there, and what do they want from you?
- Engage with and respond to community members regularly. Ask questions, encourage people to contribute, and add value to your community. Create genuine connections with people. But never barge into other people’s conversations – you don’t want to be THAT person.
If you’d like to grow your community and get ahead on the 2023 social media trends, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.