When the first social media companies disrupted the market in the 90s the number of online communities started to grow exponentially. It became easier for businesses to gather and connect with their audience in a more interactive way.

Everyone tried to capitalise on these networks by building large engaged followings within them. However, as these centralised networks have matured they have become increasingly congested. Reach and engagement has fallen and brand vulnerability has risen.

Social media is now at a crossroads and people are rethinking how they connect online or share their passion with others. It’s become crucial to understand the value that an online community can bring both to consumers and businesses. 

After helping hundreds of customers from rock stars to politicians to build communities we wanted to share the most interesting online community statistics we’ve discovered.

In this post, you can find the most extensive list of online community statistics. But if you can’t find the one you’re looking for, leave a comment so that we can look into it. 

What are the benefits of online communities?

It has been proven that online communities can have a tremendous benefit to businesses – that’s why the most successful brands have strong communities. There is a common misconception that brands become famous first and then form a community around them. It can’t be further from the truth. 

Successful brands build small communities of passionate customers in the early days and invest heavily to keep them engaged. These members then become brand advocates and share their experience with their friends, colleagues and family members. You can’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. But marketing is only a fraction of what an online community can do for your brand. Here are some other community benefits. 

Reduction in support costs

Customers interact with one another and questions get answered by other community members, which lowers the cost of customer support. Some businesses now rely heavily on community support, instead of hiring an army of customer support representatives.

Sales increases

Growing revenue is a priority for every business and a strong sense of community between your customers can result in:

    • Stronger customer loyalty
    • Better customer sentiment
    • Higher customer satisfaction (CSAT)
    • Lower customer churn

Better customer research 

There are so many ways you can use an online community to improve decision making that we would probably need to write a separate article on this. But to give you an idea, here’s how you can use an online community to get better at understanding your customers:

    • Focus groups
    • Surveys
    • Interviews
    • Idea generation
    • Idea validation
    • Alerts of potential problems
    • Bug identification
    • Trending topics
    • Improved speed to remove problems

Now that we established the key benefits of having an online community, we wanted to share with you the numbers behind the multi-billion dollar community market. 

Online Community Statistics:

Section 1: Is social media still good for community building?

In the early days, social media was a go-to for community building. Since then nearly every business has created a profile on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even though the majority of brands see very little benefit from having social media presence due to low organic reach and engagement, they still do it. Why? Because everyone else is doing it. So, here at Disciple, we asked the British population what they think about social media. 

The data that we found might make you rethink your community-building priorities. 

  • Brits spend an average of 2hrs 45mins on social media every day – but they think that 90% (2hrs 28mins) is ‘wasted’ on low-quality content
  • They spend almost exactly the same amount of time on social media as they did a year ago. This implies that people can’t consume more content. The future is going to shift from quantity to quality. 
  • Generation Z waste the most amount of time on social media – they said they wasted 3hrs 30mins a day, compared to just 1hr 21mins for the over 55s.
  • 52% of Brits would like to spend less time on social media. Not the online community statistic you want to include in your social media planning presentation. 
  • 18% of Brits feel social media is an unnecessary distraction, with 25% noting it has a negative impact on society.
  • Here is some good news: unlocking personal passions is key to engaging audiences, as people are 44% more likely to click on posts that resonate with a niche personal interest. Think about the passion or interest that unites your audience.
  • Trust in social media has plummeted, as almost 60% say they don’t trust platforms like Facebook and Instagram. 
  • 43% of Brits still don’t understand how social media platforms use their data.
  • 50% of respondents noted they’d join a dedicated community that represents their passion and 34%  would be willing to pay for exclusive content or offers. Your brands can be one of the first to capitalise on these trends and make customers stick with you for a long time.
  • The Passion Economy is led by young people, as 31% of 16-24 year olds find passion projects the most engaging social content – compared to 7% in the older generations, who primarily use it to keep up with family.

Building interest and passion-fueled community

It’s hard to believe that people will move away from social media completely any time soon. But this is already happening. Brands and influencers are already reallocating their efforts from public to private communities, where they control the content and the look and feel of the community. They are seeing a tremendous change in customer behaviour:

  • 25% of organizations who switched from a social media community to a private owned community did it to increase customer engagement.
  • Having a managed online community lessens the burden of engagement by 44%.
  • An online community can help organizations improve engagement by up to 21%.
  • 90% of communities say that suggestions from the community have been used to improve products or services.
  • 78% of communities say that it has been used to develop new products and services.
  • 77% of communities also have a knowledge base.
  • 58% of online communities say that their customers are more loyal to them because of their community.

All of these online community statistics prove one fundamental trend: We’re moving away from the Attention Economy of eyeballs and likes, to the Passion Economy of quality of content and interaction.

The use of community in your business 

If you buy into the idea that the Passion Economy is the future and want to get the numbers to convince your senior management to invest in a brand community, here are the stats that should help you with just that: 

  • Sales and Brand exposure:
    • 66% of branded communities say that the community has had an impact on customer retention.
    • 68% of branded communities say that the community has helped create new leads.
    • 55% of branded communities say that the community has contributed to an increase in sales.
    • 57% of branded communities say that the community has led to an increase in brand SEO.
    • 72% of those with a branded community say that the community has led to an increase in website traffic.
    • Branded communities are 21% more likely to see an increase in brand SEO than social media communities.
  • Customer Experience:
    • Branded communities are 13% more likely to have an impact on customer experience than social media communities.
    • 88% of branded communities said that the community has helped improve customer experience.
    • Branded communities are 16% more likely to successfully foster brand loyalty than social media communities.
    • 84% of branded communities say that the community has had a positive impact on those interested in the brand.

Community management and moderation

Community management is essential to your community’s success. Here are 3 key online community statistics that you need to know:

    • 76% of branded communities have a dedicated community manager.
    • 66% of branded communities say they have community moderators.
    • Having a dedicated community manager for your branded community can help improve performance by up to 12%.

Disciple enables you to create an online community quickly and easily without any technical skills. Give our solution a test run today!