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4 Ways COVID-19 is Fueling Subcommunities

Marketing

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Small groups are the fastest-growing areas of online communication and these brands and platforms are using COVID-19 to further this trend in meaningful ways.

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Small groups are the fastest-growing areas of online communication and COVID-19 continues to shine light on the notion that users, while still enjoying big global experiences like DNice DJ sets on Instagram, want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.

Here, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the latest efforts in this regard and how platforms and brands are using social media to develop subcommunities for consumers eager for community during this time of crisis.

Peloton Profile Tags

In a nod to the ever-popular hashtag, Peloton rolled out ‘Profile Tags’ to bring its community closer together in niche groups.

With the update, users have the option to create their own tags or browse trending tangs and connect with others who share the mutual interests and have them listed on their user profiles. More specifically, in the Peloton app, tap the “+” button. You can follow up to 10 tags at a time and select one as your primary “leaderboard tag” to appear alongside your name on the leaderboard during each ride.

A key benefit of this effort is that riders can filter these in-class leader boards by tag. For some, entering a class of thousands of other people can be overwhelming. WIth tags, engaging with others makes the experience less daunting, more intimate, and most importantly, more authentic. With these shared interests, the brand hopes those with similar fitness goals can help motivate one another to reach their fitness goals and live out their passions during these difficult times.

Without their usual gym access, many people are eager to not only maintain their physical health but the social aspects that come with group fitness. Tag-based communities are a nice substitute when we’re unable to replace face-to-face interactions.

Reddit’s Rollout of ‘Start Chatting’

After seeing an increase in chat activity in its app during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Reddit unveiled its ‘Start Chatting’ option within subreddits allowing users to initiate small group video chats of up to five at a time.

“Whether it’s about topics related to COVID-19, local news, or just their favorite games and hobbies, people all around the world are looking for others to talk to.” The platform reiterated that even in testing conversation-oriented communities have a wide variety of use cases in these extraordinary times ranging from simply connecting with new people, discussing the latest cliffhangers of our favorite TV shows and finding another person to stream with while we play Animal Crossing on Twitch.

As depicted above the above image, when you browse a subreddit, you’ll have the option to tap on the ‘Start Chatting’ button to initiate a group chat. You’ll then be connected by Reddit’s system to a group of “like-minded users looking for deeper engagements on subjects relevant to a community.”

Facebook Video Tools & Messenger Rooms

In an announcement made via Facebook Live stream, CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out several a range of new video tools across Facebook’s family of apps in response to the heightened demand and evolving use cases of video and group conversations during the global pandemic.

Perhaps the biggest announcement shared during the livestream, however, is Messenger rooms. Made available across all of Facebook apps, these Rooms will allow a new option for people to set up virtual catch ups with one another. A big priority is not needing to schedule these sessions upfront. Rather, start a Room at any time, and an active listing of all Rooms that you can join will be displayed at the top of your Facebook News Feed.

Catering to a notion of, ‘neat, serendipitous, spontaneous interaction’ is the goal. There are no time limits and up to 50 people can join a Room at a time. Currently in beta mode, a broader rollout can be expected in the coming weeks. While you can’t create a Room for your Facebook Pages at this time, Room invites can be shared via URL across all of Facebook’s apps and accessible even to those without a Facebook account.

Clubhouse

Created by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is a new social app dominating the quarantine buzz.

At a glance, engagement occurs by spontaneously jumping into voice chat rooms. The Clubhouse platform hosts multiple audio-only chat rooms at a time, and allows users to freely jump in and out of the conversations as a speaker or a listener. High-energy rooms draw bigger groups while slower ones tend to have the highest cases of “hoppers,” but lend to more intimate conversation. Put simply, the premise is to connect with those you follow in low pressure, casual conversations and gain exposure to a wide variety of smaller chat circles.

Although the app is still invite-only and in the development stages, early users tout it as the next Twitter or Snapchat.audio-based network.

Groups are a means of encountering new ideas and people within platforms that form around the causes they are passionate about. They are a source for community-building now more than ever and will continue to allow for a deeper connection with our audiences through understanding and shared experience.

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