10 trends in community engagement

Steve Smith
Starcom MediaVest Group, London

The internet has spread the notion of community, uniting people with common interests and likes across the globe, but brands must earn the right to intervene, says SMG's Steve Smith.

Communities are vital for our wellbeing, identities and everyday lives. They help us to find out about jobs, holidays and what brands to buy; we use them to meet people who share our own interests; and they provide us with people who become our friends and even lifelong partners. Examples of communities include those based around local interests, the workplace, professions, organisations (such as churches, charities, and pressure groups), hobbies, and life stages and life events.

Yet, communities are very different from a hundred years ago. Once centred around neighbourhoods, we now tend to choose the people with whom we want to associate. In this sense, our communities now centre upon us as individuals. Each group of people with whom a person regularly communicates forms a network. Together, these networks form a person's personal community, which we consider much more private than our neighbourhoods once did.