Social media and the formation of online communities

Gone are the days when social networking was just sitting at a computer sending messages. As we move into a real-time environment online communities are soon becoming real-world communities.

This has been quite clearly brought home to me when attending a regular social media event in Bristol called Brrism. What interested me about the event is that it is all organised through social media and is all about social media. I have met some very interesting people there and had some great discussions. What I realised is that coming from an Online PR/Social Media work environment I had a certain way that I viewed and used social media both for myself and my clients. I soon realised that that my methods for using social media were not the only ones. Customisability means everyone uses social media to meet their own specific needs and hence they have completely different perceptions of it.

However, one common theme that keeps coming up is the concept of sharing ideas and community. It is interesting to see how Brrism has developed since its inception last year. There is still a long way to go and I often feel that we are like kids again trying to establish ourselves in a group. New community formation takes time and I know there will be more challenges along the way.

Social media has also been powerful tool for charities. Since the Haiti earthquake charities have successfully utilised social media in getting messages out and forming supportive online communities.

I have mentioned Twestival on this blog before in reference to this as it is an excellent example. Following a successful event last year there is an event on 25 March 2010. The Twestival event will be is global affair where events are to take place in big cities around the world. This year it will be in aid of Concern which is looking to rebuild the education infrastructure in Haiti.

The entire event is organised using social media (namely Twitter) and online communities. It has created real-world impact though these channels.

It is obvious to me that charities are an area where the community and sharing ethos of social media can really come into its element.

If you are in the Bristol area definitely check out Bristwestival which is Bristol's offering. It features live music, a raffle, goodie bags and other wonderful things all in aid of charity. It takes place on 25 March at the Tunnels and tickets cost £5. See below for more details and book tickets here.