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Social isolation may be the leading problem of our era.
Technology is part of the problem of disconnection, as we're replacing deep, emotion-driving in-person relationships with superficial online relationships.
Another cause is the decline of participation in organized religions that were traditionally responsible for weaving social fabric. Reweaving the social fabric is vital to the individual as well as collectively.
Some for-profit brands are identifying the opportunity for stepping into the cultural need and market opportunity for more in-depth, real-world person-to-person connections.
Those companies that help us forge meaningful connections will win deep loyalty. If belonging can be built around apparel and technology companies, surely it can be built around learning, parenthood, food, and health.
Most brand-led community building focuses on people loosely aggregated around a brand, where the brand is the hero, and the people mostly interact with the brand.
What is needed are initiatives that enhance belonging with real connection. Brands should create spaces, experiences, products, and services that deliberately foster the conditions for diverse people coming together in respectful environments for shared experiences.
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Private messaging services like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are where private interactions happen and people are comfortable sharing details in private group messaging.
There are new applications like Tex-Rex, The Infatuation, or Community which are helping brands penetrate this private space.
Micro-communities are platforms where people gather around shared interests, beliefs or passions. Some examples are Facebook Pages and Groups, Instagram Stories, Slack and Youtube.
Brands can tap into this by partnering with influencers who have the kind of demographic they are targeting.