Ep 4: Serious Social – Has our sense of community changed?

Ep 4: Serious Social – Has our sense of community changed?

Ep 4: Serious Social – Has our sense of community changed?

Social media is replacing some of the physical proximity we’re missing, brands have the chance to be a part of this right now.

In this episode, Associate Director Belle Lawrence considers how the current climate is building digital communities.

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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

How are our digital communities changing, and how can we better engage with them?   This episode was recorded live on Facebook, on Thursday 9th April 2020.


Belle –

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone watching that digital attention is at an all-time high

Kantar have just reported a 70% increase in web browsing

with social media engagement increasing by 61% over normal usage rates.

But it’s not just online – perhaps, like me, there’s a new sense of community in your local area such as a neighbourly WhatsApp group. We’re waving to passers-by, looking for rainbows in windows on our daily walks, and clapping in unison for the NHS heroes. We’re part of a community with a common set of values, putting our trust in leaders, but also in brands and influencers, to look after us – and our trust in them is what our survival depends on. The situation we’re in is naturally building a strong sense of community.


A key component of what constitutes a community is support, so it makes sense that in this challenging time, we’re seeking that support. The business community sprang into action with more webinars and live sessions like this one, but of course we are all part of multiple tribes – so in any given day, you might be engaging with a video like this, followed by a catch up with your friends on Houseparty about what to cook from your store cupboard over the weekend.

To engage with communities, we should be thinking through all of the reasons why they might engage with you – specifically you – including

Reciprocity – help out your followers, encourage them to share their help, too

Authority – be clear with your messages, utilise your thought leaders and experts

Consistency – don’t disappear from view, unless you’re in a business where it’s really not possible to communicate right now

Support – praising partners, liking your followers’ posts, all the small touch points which may have seemed insignificant before will loom larger in everyone’s digital lives now

And Unity – we know that the majority of people will make a purchase or decision based on recommendations from friends and family first, before the influence of advertising or other sources comes into play – because a family a friend’s tie is unifying and reassuring


The good news is that social media provides a wonderful way to do some of these things for your community. In recent years, the reputation of social media has had some problems, been seen as an antisocial force – and yes, there is still some fake news and trolls to contend with – but the channels are working to reduce this.

Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey spoke about the health crisis, saying “leaders are now part of professional communities” and that “public conversation can help the world learn faster”


The best way to learn what to say is to listen to your audience – it’s really time to build that Twitter list, follow relevant pages via your brand page on Facebook, click that hashtag on LinkedIn and you’ll really start to understand where to build your community.

It might even be a new channel for your brand – even the World Health Organisation have started using TikTok to reach a wider audience

There’s been exponential growth in social use from all demographics – we need to consider who the new audience might be – and that they might be less experienced in using social media.

#WithMe on YouTube has been trending as recognisable celebrities and influencers give us even more of a window into their daily life!  Thank you, celebs, for your dedication.


Sharing really is caring – yes, retweet that message you saw about handwashing and staying home – but for brands, how else can you help?

A study from GWI notes that 80% users in the UK approve of brands sharing practical information.

Could you create a new group for your followers – perhaps your brand has a wonderful historical story which could be told in an interactive way as an option for parents home-schooling, or hair care tips for those of us who might, just might be missing the hairdressers!  Bottom line – figure out ways to stay in touch, and don’t be afraid to ask what the audience wants!


With content though, creating new can be a challenge right now – but you’re missing a trick if you’re not sweating all the assets you already have. What’s in the archive to be repurposed and refreshed? Or can you work with a partner to combine forces? You might have images; they might have video – you can both benefit from additional reach by tagging each other.


So helpful tips are great, but we all need a break too – 70% UK users approve brands sharing entertaining content – and we’re all spending more time on messengers too

Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds. But where the youngsters lead, the rest will follow

Look for entertaining and shareable memes and jokes, or even sentimental words to cheer others up can be a really great way to build your audience – but be cautious and trust your gut.

We’re really seeing the Arts sector stepping up to continue to entertain us – Andrew LW musicals streams, Arts Society have free lectures, and amdram groups up and down the country and experimenting with live play and poetry readings – truly leaving a light on the stage during the dark. I recently wrote a blog post about that if you’d like to read it, it’s on our website immediatefuture.co.uk – I’ll warn you that you might get an earworm featuring Belinda Carlisle, though!

Listen to your audience. Think about how to help and entertain and sweat your creative assets to build a community digitally – don’t forget to ask them to contribute – be part of the community, it should not be a one-way flow. Social media is replacing some of the physical proximity we’re missing, brands have the chance to be a part of this right now.

If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.