Guest post by Nicole Fouchier, Emojiee

Everywhere you look, people are glued to their phones, checking their friend’s latest social updates rather than enjoying time with the people around them. Taking pictures and uploading videos of the most beautiful places only ever viewing them through the screen of their phone. Now roaming charges are abolished in the EU, why would you spend time enjoying the beautiful art treasures in the Vatican when you can be snapchatting your friends whilst chilling at the Spanish Steps?

Every year my son and I visit a European city. When he was 12, we spent a few days in London.

“Would you like to see Buckingham Palace?” I asked him.

“No thanks” he replied, “I have already seen it.”

“I am pretty sure you’re mistaken. This is the first time you’ve visited London. I should know, I am your mother.”

“Mum, seriously? You’re living in the dark ages. I took a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace on my laptop before we left. It’s so much better than the real thing, being surrounded by tourists not able to see anything. There’s no need to go there anymore. Been there, seen it. Let’s go to the movies.”

This was 6 years ago. Recently, I read an article in the New York Times and the Economist. Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have become the five most valuable listed companies in the world, in that order. With a total market value of $2.9 trillion, they are worth more than any five firms in history. And still growing. Tech platforms, including community platforms, are are already playing an indisputable role in our everyday lives whether we are consumers, students, socializing, or whatever we are looking for.

With new devices and advanced mobile applications, everyone nowadays has a thousand-and-one ways to consume and enjoy digital media. According to the 2017 Digital Democracy Survey from Deloitte, changes in digital, social media use, and advertising are impacting business models and economics across many industries.

Did you know that 90% of Gen Z and Millennials (ages 14-33) are bingeing on digital media and more than one third of them binge watch weekly? These groups watch five hours in a single sitting! Interestingly, most of them indicate that they’re also using social networks, surfing the web and texting while watching. Using digital communities to socialise, interact with friends, study and work has become the new way of living. I only have to look at my 18-year-old son and his tech savvy, bright, amicable friends to know this is true for us.

According to Deloitte, 96% of Millennials are on social media. They are using it as their primary source of news (even more than television). 70% interacted with companies via social media in the last year, and 74% found that experience to be more effective than a phone call. Why is this? Does a company provide better answers through social media than via phone? Or is it just that the younger generations under 33 are more used to using social media instead of using a phone for its original purposes, - making a call? To me the answer is pretty clear…whenever I call my son he never answers, which is rather strange since he’s glued to his phone all day. When I sent him a text message or an app he responds immediately... These generations can browse and type faster than they speak.

Whatever we might think about this trend, this is the new way of interacting. Welcome to the world of digital reality. Community platforms -whether social or business platforms- with likeminded people are nowadays the ways of communicating, socialising, advertising, sharing and solving problems, recruiting, hiring, working, generating business leads etc. Even back in January 2016, more than 1 billion users had used Facebook’s Groups features to connect with likeminded individuals in a month.

What does this mean for your university, business or organisation? Facilitate communities that are important to your organisation by investing in a branded community platform. Start now, not tomorrow. Customer community platforms are taking the lead and growing rapidly. Being customer centric is important to compete. In the race for customers, we tend to forget the most valuable untapped resource that can help reach our institutions goals and drive growth for our business: our former students and employees, our alumni.

In my next blog, I will share the latest insights on why investing in alumni and facilitating them through a platform will benefit your institution or business tremendously.

Written by Hivebrite

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