The pandemic has paved the way for digital media to play a key role in how we connect to each other. Many people have grown reliant on online communities. And Facebook Groups have seen a huge rise in engagement.
But how do Facebook Groups influence overall activity?
Facebook has worked with researchers from NYU’s The Governance Lab to give us new insights on the impact of online communities.
The researchers interviewed 50 leaders of Facebook Groups in 17 countries. It also had 26 experts in online community building as its respondents.
The Lab had access to internal Facebook insights. And they ran a parallel YouGov survey of 15,000 online users from 15 countries.
The data shows the increasing importance of online groups to connect people.
“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,” says the researchers.
Overall, 77 percent of respondents said that the most important group they are in is online.
The findings stress how relevant online groups are now. It keeps us all connected and engaged to discuss various topics.
Here are the four key elements from their research:
1. Digital tech forms groups at unprecedented speed and scale.
Connecting with people of same interests opens your world to new opportunities. But it also leads to hate groups and dangerous movements. And people connect with those who share their beliefs.
Facebook is addressing this element. And it is challenging. Shared interests are starting movements. They are greater now than ever before.
2. Online groups allow marginalized people to build communities.
Connecting like-minded people allows isolated users to feel that they belong. And it establishes connections with those who have same experiences. It leads to strong bonds and builds on those connections.
3. Online and offline spaces complement each other.
The researchers a common link between online groups and real-life connections. It adds to the key benefits of establishing digital communities. Making friends online eventually leads to real-world meetups. And it may develop mental health and community.
4. The pandemic highlighted the role of online groups.
The circumstances surrounding the pandemic nurtured growing online connections. People missing out on important social gatherings and meetups could not go out to the real world as they normally would.
The aftermath led to the reliance on Facebook Groups to socialize.
Not trailblazing. But these trends meet expectations. They highlight the importance of Facebook groups. And the power they have to build connections and communities.
More than 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups every month. And more than 50 percent of Facebook users belong to five or more groups. members of five or more groups. Another 70 million people lead as admins and moderators.
The report emphasizes the key lessons for people who want to be community leaders. And also underlines how they can provide more support for these users.
Download the full report here.