With private communities on the rise, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are taking notice.
CCW is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts and thoughts from various community leaders.
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This week, three major social media platforms made big announcements about their commitment to community-like features over the coming months and years. The Community Chat team summarized the highlights for you below!
Groups on LinkedIn do not have the best reputation.
LinkedIn is finally waking up and introducing some much needed updates to their groups product. They are adding a host of new moderation features, allowing admins to review all new posts before they go live, which should considerably help their spam and self promotion problem.
Members admins will also have the ability to refine their notification settings, to make sure members can more easily engage with relevant content.
At the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, Twitter's head of product management unveiled a series of planned updates to the platform for 2020.
They are launching new, community-inspired features that run contrary to the current public broadcasting nature of the platform. A Tweet will now have four options before being distributed: “Global, Group, Panel, and Statement.” The "Global" option is a public Tweet that the world can interact with, and "Group" limits replies to only those that you follow or mention in the Tweet. "Panel" restricts replies to only those mentioned in the Tweet. A "Statement" is treated as an announcement that no one else can reply to.
Although all Tweets under the new changes will still be public to view, restricting access to replies via the Group and Panel options will lead to the creation of 'private' sub-communities within the feed of public discourse.
Dieter Bohn, writer at The Verge, had a great take on the proposed changes:
"Twitter wants to give users the option to limit the spread of their tweets. Their solution is a more interesting middle ground between public and private, focused on the distribution of the tweet instead of permissions to see it."
Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the roaring 20's with a long-form Facebook post about how he will be thinking more about the 10 year view as opposed to short-sighted yearly goals. Part of that 10 year plan will be a continued emphasis on small, private community.
But being part of such a large community creates its own challenges and makes us crave intimacy. When I grew up in a small town, it was easy to have a niche and sense of purpose. But with billions of people, it's harder to find your unique role. For the next decade, some of the most important social infrastructure will help us reconstruct all kinds of smaller communities to give us that sense of intimacy again.
He goes on to say that "community" is one of the areas of Facebook innovation that he's most excited about.
Our digital social environments will feel very different over the next 5+ years, re-emphasizing private interactions and helping us build the smaller communities we all need in our lives.
What shape or form will these new updates and innovations take? We can look to the past for answers. During Zuckerberg's speech at the F8 developer conference in in 2019, he announced that there were over 400 million people active in Facebook groups, and that they had tweaked the Facebook newsfeed algorithm to increase emphasis on posts from groups. They've continued to rollout new features for group managers and have committed a significant portion of their marketing budget on promoting groups.
"We've redesigned Facebook to make communities as central as friends.”
Seen the latest Facebook Groups advertisements on network TV?
Gina Bianchini, the founder of community website builder Mighty Networks, has a word of caution for brands and companies thinking about leveraging the groups platform:
“In the not-so-distant future, group admins will not just be doing the hard work of keeping your groups active, you will have to pay Facebook for the privilege of running your group in ways that we can’t even imagine today.”
Is it a smart business decision to build a following on a platform that could change the rules of engagement? Facebook has notoriously nerfed Facebook Pages by de-prioritizing their posts from the newsfeed, leaving behind brands that had spent thousands of ad dollars and hours creating content and building follower bases.
It is very important to consider the trade-offs of starting a community on a social media platform. It can be great for network and users, as social platforms are where people spend their time. However, what users see on a newsfeed or timeline during that time is controlled by the algothrim, and is thus subject to change at any time. Many of the social platforms also do not open up their data, so accessing member information can be difficult.
Compare this to Slack, which has a robust API for collecting and processing community member data. Starting your own platform can also solve the data ownership issue, but can be much more difficult to maintain engagement.
Brianne Kimmel, Managing Partner at WorkLife VC underscores the importance of community as a retention mechanism for SaaS companies.
Community Builders: Go big and go bold!
Welcome to "invite-only social internet."
And the best community Tweet of the week goes to Andy Mcllwain, Head of Community at GoDaddy (and CommChat newsletter subscriber!)
A handful of recommended readings from the past week.
Dark Horse Discord (5 minute read)
Discord, originally starting as a chat app for gamers to replace Skype, has exploded in popularity. Would you believe us if we told you that this community-app that you've probably never heard of has 250+ million users and 7 billion daily messages sent?
From Audiences to Communities (4 min read)
Musings from To Polymaths, a private community for executives, about how they turned their newsletter audience into a funnel for a membership community.