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Let’s stroll down memory lane for a second, shall we? Think of a moment where you felt like you really belonged to a place. Like you were accepted for who you were, and were inspired by the energy and ideas of everyone around you.

Chances are, you were a part of a community. And it doesn’t have to be official, communities are all around us. That dog park you visit and exchange dog parent woes with others? That’s a community. That gym or kickboxing class you go to where you mirror sighs of relief after the hardest workout of your life? That’s a community. 

Where would we be without them?  We find purpose and accountability there. The power of sharing an experience and having others say, “me too” is invaluable. 

But in today’s post-pandemic work-from-home world, in-person communities and connections are harder to come by. Where is everyone supposed to find like-minded people around them with the same goals and passions? That’s where online communities come in! 

Today we’ll be diving headfirst into how meaningful communities are to your potential students, and a whole round of data to back it up. Thinkific partnered with survey panel provider, Centiment, to conduct a study of over 1,000 adults across the US to understand how Americans use communities online for learning and education. Centiment has completed the ESOMAR 28.

We pulled up all the most relevant online community statistics you can put into action today!  All so you can adjust your strategy based on what your audience needs. The proof is in the pudding…..or community in this case ;).

Skip ahead:

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Top reasons why online communities are the ideal space for learning

  1. More knowledge 

27% said they have trust in the knowledge of their peers in an online community. Think about it, when you’re doing anything in-person, it’s all based on your local neighbourhood and proximity. But online, you have the chance to learn from people all around the world and all walks of life.

  1. Diverse opinions

Perspective, perspective. Do you love when people challenge your thinking? Your students need to hear different opinions in order to stretch their big ideas. 45% said they value diverse opinions. Online communities make way for a respectful way to learn, and can change the way students see the world. 

So if you’re worried about how you can move them along that path of transformation, ding ding ding! This is the biggest low-effort way that can make the biggest impact.

  1. Non-judgmental space

No one likes to be judged. Have you ever been scared to raise your hand back in school, worried you’ll ask a dumb question? Most of us have been there. An online community is niche enough that it can give students the comfort and safety of like-minded people who just want to learn and encourage each other. 37% said they appreciate a non-intimidating/judgemental space in an online community. So don’t be intimidated to start one for your business! Creating safety will be the best thing you’ll do for them.

  1. Collective experience

37% said they value the shared collective experience/pursuit. Connections make the world go round. Simply being in the same space with others who are either struggling at something or working towards something else, is a gratifying experience. At the end of the day, your students will remember how your business made them feel! And feeling confident, heard, and inspired to push towards their dreamiest goals together, is unbeatable.

Building interaction and engagement in communities

These days, it’s tough to find like-minded people in person who are outside of your regular routine. But online communities? Are here to stay. In fact, 52% agree that it’s easier to find others who share interests and passions in a community online vs in person.

Logically, it makes sense. Think of your close-knit circle. What are the chances that everyone is passionate about the same topic you are? In an online community, you’re able to share that passion (and you don’t have to tone your nerd down! You can completely be yourself). Your students are looking for that community connection to validate their passion.

 Learning together is so much more fun than going at it alone. 55% interact more with people in online communities than in-person communities. Living in a world that has already shifted everything to remote, this number can only go up.

So if you’re at a crossroads looking to up those course completion rates, or help engage students in what seems like “dry” material, try it out!

Positive feelings of belonging 

How many communities are you a part of that showcase your identity? Our survey data reveals that 59% belong to at least one online community, and more people say they’re members of online communities where they feel they belong (i.e. 40%) than in-person ones.

Think about the most successful brands today that made it to the top— many of which you might be wearing or using right at this moment. Nike makes us feel like we can do anything, Apple screams luxury, Aerie gives us body positivity & self love—the list goes on! It’s not about the product, but the feeling and identity it gives us. When you entrench that feeling of belonging to your brand, you’ll more likely get loyal customers for life–ones that achieve meaningful transformations for students. 

Isn’t that all we want when we’re learning…to come out the other side changed, challenged, and ready to spring all that knowledge into action? That’s the power of having a space to belong.

Spend money

Maybe your biggest fear is: who will spend money on my community, does it have value? Now think about your most exciting hobby that you can’t ever get enough of. Would you be willing to pay an expert to teach you more of it, instead of taking the time to research daily and only see results after months (maybe years?) Maybe you already have in your entrepreneurship journey.

People are willing to spend money on what’s important to them. In fact, 12% have started/run a community before, 24% spend money on online community memberships, and 30% agree they are more likely to pay for online course if comes with membership to community of students.  Don’t underestimate the power of community and connection, your students will become unstoppable together!

By listening to your community and gathering valuable insights, you can create content and products that genuinely cater to their needs. Engaging your learning community effectively and planning for the future will help you unlock the full potential of your audience and ensure the success of your learning business.

Learning and accountability

Let’s be honest, there’s only so much time, knowledge, and accountability a teacher can give 1-1 to students. 38% agree that it’s easier to learn in an online community of peers, than to be taught by a teacher one on one.  Learning together makes it personal. It gives students that intrinsic motivation to keep going and keep bettering themselves in the skill or topic you are teaching them. 45% agreed they’ve learned as much from the teacher of a course/class, as they have from the community of students taking it with them. Evidently, communities are a killer learning strategy!

We all need accountability, and what better way to have it, than from people who just GET it. There’s a reason this quote is so popular:  If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.

Ready to create powerful transformations and connections for your students? Try out learning communities today!

This blog was published on October 2022 and was updated March 2023 to be even more useful!”