Finding Your Communities Online
We don’t go online just to find content. We are looking for positive connections with those who share our interests. And these days, it’s possible to find this common ground in the robust community of conversations that are flourishing online.
What are online communities?
Online communities—also called web communities or digital communities—are communities of people with common interests gathering on social platforms to share ideas, collaborate remotely or play games.
A community you choose to join might be focused on where you went to school, where you grew up, the kind of work you do, growing a backyard garden, learning about science, books, crafts, cooking, music, gaming, art, travel, movies and much more. People can find conversations that are more curated than Facebook, less corporate than Slack, more immersive than Instagram, not sponsored by advertisers…and safe.
7 communities to check out
Here’s a look at some groups—among the multitudes you can discover—to give you an idea of what’s possible.
Discord boasts a thriving social gaming community, and there’s even more. Millions of diverse groups exist on Discord, from study groups to K-Pop fans. Discord has channels similar to Slack, where members can discuss relevant topics with friends and strangers.
The Movies & Filmmaking community on Discord has nearly 40,000 members who share knowledge and engage in compelling conversations about TV shows and films. Three moderators and three staff members maintain the rules of engagement.
How to get started: Download the Discord app on your smartphone or use the desktop version and create an account. Navigate to Movies & Filmmaking and click “Accept Invite.” Read the rules of engagement before posting.
The Environmental Talks community, run by environmentalist Ashra Kunwar, has over 2,000 members and features live audio conversations among professional scientists and interested learners. Clubhouse is a social audio app with around 2 million weekly active users. You can find thousands of online communities to join in Clubhouse.
How to get started: Download the Clubhouse app on your smartphone and create an account. In the Clubhouse Hallway, you’ll see what rooms are active and available to join. Tap on the event to join the room; the speakers will appear at the top. Listen in to see if it interests you, then join the conversation by raising your hand and speaking into your phone when you’re called on. Follow Environmental Talks and get notifications anytime the group goes live with an event.
Once you’ve made a few friends with common interests on the platform, you can even create your own event by tapping on the green “Start a room” icon on the bottom of the page. Choose people to invite or make it open to the public.
Goodreads helps people track books they’ve read or want to read—and its community platform functions as a virtual book club! Discover new perspectives from authors like James Baldwin and engage in meaningful conversation with other readers in this online community. The group is moderated and usually focuses on a book for a few weeks, so you really have time to get into it.
Food lovers use TikTok to share recipes and create how-to videos for all kinds of dishes from all over the world. This digital community is more organic and less curated than the three listed above, but the opportunity to connect directly with knowledgeable chefs and search hashtags like #Cooking makes the TikTok food community worth dipping into.
How to get started: Download the TikTok app and create a profile. After setting up your account, follow food accounts to train the algorithm to output more recipe videos. Interact with other foodies using popular hashtags like #TikTokFood, #Recipe and #Cooking.
This business-focused platform has online communities in over 45 countries. Many large, prominent global companies (where you may work now or have in the past) have current or alumni groups and use Hivebrite to build, manage and engage their communities.
A popular choice for people looking for groups about careers, moving to a new city, working out, alumni groups and so many more. Friend groups can also benefit from its easy-to-use event scheduling feature, which makes it easy to communicate and plan hangouts in one place.
Vampr is an online community of musicians collaborating together. Looking for a guitarist for your indie rock band? Search for new artistic collaborators in Vampr Pro. Send tracks back and forth through the platform, and take your music global with Vampr Publishing.
Be smart about finding your online niche
When you’re exploring, consider whether the community you’re thinking about joining prioritizes engagement among members and consistently moderates conversations. Lack of structure and purpose is what makes Facebook groups and subreddits fail. With millions of communities to choose from, curation is important.
Look for groups with community managers. These moderators are tasked with ensuring that community members are engaged in focused conversation and proper etiquette. Group ambassadors can also help align community goals and spark growth without sacrificing healthy conversation.
Stay safe by only joining online communities that have strict rules of engagement and monitored conversations and exist on platforms with superior cybersecurity and online safety measures. Consider creating an alias to remain anonymous.