The online communities we all need right now
By Lizzie Wood
T wo weeks in and working from home already feels like the new norm. At Fourth Day, we’re incredibly lucky to be a close-knit team and our size means we can get everyone from our international offices on a Zoom call for a coffee break, as well as rounding the week off with virtual Friday drinks.
However, for many, this is a really lonely and worrying time, especially for the freelance community. After all, as creatives, we like to communicate – to sit next to one another, bounce ideas around, look at something visual.
Of course, one of the positive things you often see in a crisis is the way people respond. The coronavirus pandemic is no different, with a huge number of online communities popping up in place of face-to-face meetings.
From Facebook groups and forums to Slack channels and WhatsApp groups, these platforms are emerging as a place to share new opportunities and ‘talk shop,’ as well as somewhere to support each other and just say hello.
We’ve rounded up a handful of our favourites here:
Online Geniuses – a Slack group for digital marketers around the world to connect with each other. Channels include ‘CRO,’ ‘eCommerce’ and ‘social media marketing’ as well as things like ‘shameless plug.’ I’ve found a lot of these types of spaces really fruitful, both in terms of knowledge sharing and winning new business. For bigger groups like these, it’s worth remembering you can mute channels which may not be relevant so that you’re not being overwhelmed by hundreds of messages!
Creative Boom chat – a new free forum for creatives to connect and support each other, brought to us from the lovely Katy Cowan who heads up Creative Boom’s online magazine (and recently launched podcast). Creative Boom has always done a great job of creating a space to share ideas and inspiration, and the newly created forum is an extension of that same friendly, supportive crowd.
The Northern Creative Collective – a networking and support group on Facebook for those working in the creative and marketing industries. Perfect for small business owners and freelancers, it was set up by Claire Gamble, MD at Unhooked Communications, who also runs heaps of great events and courses for anyone looking to hone their skills across PR, marketing, SEO and more. This is a regular check-in for me at the minute – the perfect balance between useful resources and uplifting memes.
WhatsApp – the messaging app has really come into its own during this crisis. WhatsApp groups have been created for every purpose you can imagine, whether that’s community support on the streets around you, or with family to share videos and an endless stream of corona-related memes. And professionally, WhatsApp groups are now becoming a useful resource for several industries, the PR community being one of them. These group chats allow for advice-sharing with those in the same situation as you, in a way that has never happened so openly before. Twitter is a great starting point to find the groups most relevant to you.
LinkedIn – More traditional social media platforms are also useful ways to connect with peers as we all try to find the best way through. LinkedIn Groups, which had fallen slightly out of favour in recent years, are seeing a renaissance thanks to Covid-19. For example, Communicating about Coronavirus is a group of comms and marketing professionals looking for advice about strategies and tactics used during this period.
The coronavirus is having an impact on all of our lives, both personally and professionally. But perhaps, if something good can come of this, it is that a more open and honest dialogue can open up in professional communities that can benefit us all.
Lizzie is an Associate Director in the Manchester team