How will COVID-19 affect the future of communities?
What will be the future of communities? How will these uncertain times affect community engagement, the role of community manager and the community industry? In our recent article, we focused on turning offline communities online and that it’s up to us whether we treat this new reality as a threat or an opportunity. With this in mind, let´s take a look at some ideas as to how COVID-19 will affect the future of communities!
Communities will be both online and offline.
This pandemic represents a major test for everyone in the business because we never experienced anything like it before. From now on there probably won't be communities that exist solely in the physical, in-person environment anymore, as now that the pandemic genie is out of the bottle, operators will seek to protect from suffering similar disruptions in the future. New communities will arise both in online and offline environments from the very beginning. This represents a great opportunity! For those community managers who have never dreamt about organizing a virtual conference or running their communities on a sophisticated online platform before, anything is possible, even necessary now. Many of us (not only community managers but community members as well) certainly appreciate what the online environment brings: better accessibility, lower expenses, and an increasing number of engagements due to the lack of any geographic constraints. Virtual activities cannot fully substitute face to face interactions, but from now on they will definitely represent an option for everybody just starting out and a great added value to the current offline communities.
The role of the community manager will strengthen.
Within crisis, people tend to be more vulnerable, willing to help each other, and yearning for human connection.
"I believe a major reason for end-users to join and use the platform these days is the community, safety and mental health," says Anna Gäfvert Veloso, Head of Community Management at Spaceflow.
It is only up to us, community managers, to show the world why communities really matter right now. If we are able to empower people to create value for each other, build a trusted environment and generate value throughout the community not only for community members but for sponsoring businesses as well, we can be sure that the importance and acknowledgment of communities will increase rapidly. We have to be well prepared for it, though. Most of us will have to learn completely new skills.
Below, you can find a list of skills which will be increasingly crucial for every community manager:
Content creation skills
Facilitation and moderation skills
Fast change adaptation and implementation skills
Do you want to learn more about the role of community manager? Read this article.
People will be more engaged in communities.
As a follow-up to the previous paragraph, people will increasingly appreciate greater participation in their communities as well as the sense of belonging that engagement brings. As people living under lockdowns increasingly strive for greater interaction, this situation is an opportunity for a mindset change - people will be more willing to share and help each other; they will be more open to new experiences and engagement opportunities. These are essential conditions for meaningful and engaged communities. The bright future of the community industry is before us!
Read more articles like this on the impact of COVID-19 on communities:
Only community can save us now by Matt Mecham
Community in a Time of Crisis: Thoughts from CMX Global Connect by Martina Pocchiari
Let’s stay together: running Community remotely by Isabella de Brito
On the Other Side by Erica Kuhl
First published in May 2020, updated in January 2021 (quote of Anna Gäfvert Veloso).
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