Before going into the discovery of Social Community it is useful to try to define them. Perhaps the simplest way to try to explain what they are is to identify them as a group of like-minded individuals who share relationships.
From the moment we are born, and throughout the rest of our lives, we share experiences and interactions with groups. First within the family nucleus from which we come, then in the school environment, in playful activities, and up to the world of work. In each of these situations, the community is important to us: feeling an integral part of a community means that we feel included and protected by those around us.
The same is true with communities that are born or developed online because by now the intangible world of the web has an ever greater relevance within our lives. Feeling part of an online community is our way of letting everyone know we exist and not feel marginalized.
It can therefore be said that we are always linked to a Social Community or a multiplicity of them, so it is good to understand their usefulness. I’ll explain how they were born, how they spread and evolved, and which, accounts are currently the most followed. I advise you to continue reading.
Utility of Communities in Society
A community is a complex social structure that shares attitudes, values, goals, and even, in some respects, a common vision of the world. The need to create bonds is inherent in living beings, except individuals who place themselves on the margins of the society in which they live. It is what sociologists define as deviance, i.e. an act or behavior that violates the rules of the community, causing disapproval and discrimination.
The need for human beings to associate arises above all to avoid marginalization because the sense of belonging to a group generates an idea of security which increases if one is placed with a precise role within it. Being part of a plurality allows you to share one’s experiences, which can have positive or negative connotations:
- positive connotation: it concerns personal achievements (then the group will be ready to praise us);
- negative connotation: in case of failures the group will provide comfort and support.
Nowadays, with the increasingly consistent development of Social Media, communities also move online, becoming digital communities or born directly online. Facebook groups or Instagram accounts are known, which gather around them numerous people sharing the same interests and passions.
Here the concept of Social Community extends to the world wide web through the birth of Social Networks, becoming a global phenomenon, which overcomes all space-time barriers.
How a community is born
Without encroaching on social psychology, communities arise from the need for a group of people to share a specific interest.
As they say, unity is strength! This is the reason why social community of various types exists, for example, organized for:
- religious beliefs (people who gather to pray, organize religious-themed events and trips, etc.);
- political ideologies (people interested in current affairs, elections, laws, etc.);
- sports passions (people who support the same team or like the same sports);
- hobbies (they can be truly endless: from cooking to floriculture, from singing to fishing);
- age groups (people born in the same years, often nostalgic for their childhood).
These listed are just a few cases, but there would be many others.
As I said, we all need to feel included in at least one community: don’t we perhaps believe that we are stronger while we are at the stadium cheering on our favorite team together with fifty thousand others like us? Is it true or not that we think more of ourselves while building a birdhouse in a home improvement class? Or do we feel safer if, when we need information, we know that someone will soon answer our questions?
This is where social groups come to our aid, they support us, they comfort us and they don’t make us feel alone. This is why I want to explain their importance to you, especially with the advent of social networks.
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From Newsgroups to Social Networks: communities today
In the so-called fourth industrial revolution in which we are living, everything travels at double, if not triple, speed compared to the past, even the connections between people. Relationships are born, develop, and can end in the blink of an eye. In addition to time, the space within which to move has also changed, so Social Communities are made up of people who live in New York, etc. without limits of time and space. Let’s go over some history:
- In the beginning, there were Newsgroups. Millennials have probably never heard of it, but many will remember how it all began. These were virtual spaces (which today we would call bulletin boards) located on interconnected servers. A sort of “ room ” was accessed, called a news server in which the various newsgroups were grouped by subject, through the use of software called news clients. Probably someone from the previous generation still uses them, something similar is Google Groups (find out how to have one).
- Then it was the turn of the Forums: virtual places for discussion, hosted by websites, where people with the same interests met, discussed, asked questions, and found solutions about a precise topic. Exactly like the ancient Roman Forum, the cultural meeting place par excellence. It is precisely in the Forums that today famous terms were born, such as emoticon, ban, quote, netiquette, nickname, topic, troll, and post. To these terms are added many others. Today several Forums have survived, but they certainly no longer have the momentum of the early 2000s;
- Finally came Social Networks. The birth of the online artist community DeviantArt in 2000 marks the advent of Social Media. Then came last. fm in 2002, Myspace and LinkedIn in 2003, and, in 2004, what is now considered the king of social networks: Facebook. Since that moment everything has changed and the web is a continuously flourishing of groups and social communities.
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What is an Online Social Community?
An online Social Community is affinity and represents the precise identity of the subjects who populate it. It is a free space where ideas, thoughts, and solutions are concentrated. Many social networking sites also offer platforms for discussing topics that a community finds mutually interesting or beneficial.
Simply put, an online social community is a group of like-minded individuals connected by interactions. The large numbers that revolve around this world have unleashed a real war even between brands, and authentic community marketing professionals, who challenge each other with creative posts and sponsorships.
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Business side community: an interview with a Community Manager
At this point, I suppose the concept of digital communities is clearer. But how are they managed? What’s the best way to do community building? We talked about it with an expert who has been involved in community management for years: Silvia Giovannini, social media manager – or as she likes to call herself “social media something” – of the Unione degli Industriali of the province of Varese.
What exactly do you do?
Hi everyone, I’m Silvia and I deal with social media for the Varese Industrial Union, which is the territorial branch of the Confindustria system, a trade association that represents local businesses. Particularly interesting area, because Varese is one of the provinces that produce the largest related industries not only but also in Europe. To give you a few names, Missoni, Vibram, Yamamay, Lindt, and Poretti are big names in the Varese area. I am a journalist and over time I became passionate about digital. Thanks above all to some contacts, this passion came to me which then became a job.
The association has always wanted to tell the story of the territory and create a business culture in the broadest sense. We have a magazine called Varesefocus, published in seventeen thousand copies, so we still want to open up about it. It was necessary, as well as a compelling experience, to be on various social networks and we decided to land first of all on Facebook where there is the magazine’s channel.
How do you manage your community?
First of all, we try to be very constant: having both an official site with a technical newsletter and a newspaper that also has a blog, we don’t lack topics. The consistency of the contents and the quality of these is certainly the way to feed the Social Community. We try to answer, we are not interested in having a flat showcase: social networks are above all listening and we listen and respond, even to those who are very critical.
Which channels did you decide to occupy?
We have decided to be on all channels but to diversify the offer. First of all, because we believe that social communication cannot be standardized, each channel has its functions, its audience, and its tastes. One recipe does not fit all, we have decided to be very careful about this and not replicate content:
- Facebook where the community of the newspaper is
- Linkedin which, being a professional channel, is ours
- Twitter that we use as a press office
- Youtube with a very good journalist who deals with videos, we like to tell the company roads also through images
- Instagram: the latter we tell the beauty of our businesses and emotions. In the Stories, we also tell the events, but in reality what we do in general is to tell the company about stimuli, products, and processes, through corporate storytelling.
Channel management tips?
I continue to train, which is what I would recommend to younger kids. The context of social networks is constantly changing, what I see today I will certainly not see in a month. It takes skills that are always in step with changes: those who know everything about Linkedin probably know little about data analysis or Instagram, so you need to find your sources and get trained. I was a journalist and, to approach digital and social communities, I had to study.
I’m not an expert in the sector, but I’m a person with a great desire to learn and a great passion. Even the most experienced study every day, so what we say to young people who enter companies is: study! It applies to everyone, even more so in a field that changes every day.
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Facebook: the communities with the most followers
Being the Social Network dedicated to entertainment, it goes without saying that the most popular groups among the numerous Social Communities on Facebook are those capable of eliciting a smile at any time of the day. Limiting ourselves, otherwise, the discussion would be too complex, here are the most famous.
- Ugly players: “Do you play soccer and are you uglier than meningitis? You will be included in our photo album”. It is the tremendous incipit of the most followed community in the sports field that leaves no room for misunderstandings.
- Moms texting on WhatsApp: Who among us hasn’t received a hilarious message from Mom? But also from grandmothers and aunts, there is something for all tastes. Not forgetting the dads, no one escapes the harsh law of the screenshot.
- Surace house: “We are from the south, we go out on video” reads the website of the Neapolitan production company. They churn out hilarious clips based on the classic stereotypes of Southern families.
- The ugly Milanese: raise your hand if you have never seen an ugly interview. The archetype used is that of the Milanese in the collective imagination: snobbish, proudly ignorant, and always in a hurry. Because the Milanese “is neither on time, nor early, nor late: he is already there!”.
- Filthy: irreverent satire that makes fun of bad journalism through real or invented facts, proposed with absurd titles that distort reality by placing themselves at the exact opposite of what is perceived.
- Spinoza: since 2005 they have been proposed as a collective satirical blog, it is the most dated Social Community among those listed. Their satire is refined but very pungent, at least as much as their name (which has little to do with the well-known Dutch philosopher).
Instagram: the most followed accounts
The artistic beauties and breathtaking panoramas which are rich, dominate the social network dedicated exclusively to images. The most populated online communities could only be those found below.
- Igers: acronym of Instagramers, i.e. Instagram users, repost the most beautiful photos of followers who insert the “Igers” tag in their images.
- Vivo: community completely dedicated to artistic and landscape beauties.
- Volgo: another community dedicated to our peninsula.
- Yallers: as reported in the bio found on Instagram “They organize events and activities to introduce people and discover the area”.
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With an increasingly evolving world and an increasingly fast-paced life, it is practically impossible to be outside the concept of “social community”. Social Communities were born and developed precisely to bring people together and today more than ever they are the maximum representation of the power of Social Media, which can interconnect users all over the world, breaking down all distances.
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