Random Acts is committed to supporting people who want to perform random acts of kindness in their community. But what if you want to build a community that is digital instead of physical? Our first blog about #GetKind — Creating Community laid the groundwork for the focus of this piece: creating online communities!
The Benefits of Online Communities
Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, online communities have been thriving. Online participation has increased, and it is easier than ever to connect with people who have similar interests but may be physically distant from each other. A recent study out of University of Toronto and University of British Columbia found that community belonging is associated with better mental health across all ages. Fostering a community online is clearly a worthwhile endeavor!
Creating Online Communities
How do you create a community online? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
First things first, determine the purpose of your group. What are you trying to achieve, and with whom do you want to share this online space? Use your purpose as a touchstone for everything that comes next.
Pick an online platform that will host your community. Consider how easy the platform is to use and access, and how many people use the platform. Make sure the platform you use has accessibility features, like the ability to add alt-text to images for low-vision or blind users. If the platform uses video, be sure to add captions for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Think about how you will keep people safe in your community. The security of people’s data and privacy policies on the platform are important to research beforehand in order to build on a foundation of trust and safety.
Once you have your preferred platform in mind, consider creating community standards, which are rules that all members of your community need to abide by. Determine if your community will have moderation and who will moderate the group. Moderation can be time consuming, but it is worthwhile in order to maintain a positive, safe environment for everyone. If you choose to have more than one moderator, be sure that all of the moderators have the same understanding of how to enforce your community standards.
Finally, think about how people will find your community. Using the purpose of your community, write a descriptive explanation of what your community is doing. Consider learning a bit about search engine optimization (SEO) and use terms in your description that will allow people to find your group easily.
Reach Out and #GetKind!
If this all seems overwhelming, never fear! Our Regional Representatives are here! Reach out to a Regional Representative in your area and ask for help around building a community with acts of kindness in mind. You can also contact our Outreach team for more information about starting a Friends of Random Acts or student group! However you want to create a community, we are here to help.