In times of a pandemic where there is uncertainty and fear, community has proven to be more important than ever. As physical distancing measures kick in all around the globe, we then need to rely on those in our immediate circle for support, guidance, reliable information, solidarity, and empathy. Community builders around the world have had to pivot to manage their respective communities as all engagement and communication has moved from the offline to the online space.
Kampung Collective, based in Singapore, very quickly pulled together a dipstick survey involving 66 community builders from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China & India.
This exercise also involved 30 Community Builders from a diverse representation of verticals and industries involving start-ups, venture capitalists, freelancers and government bodies, in both the profit and non-profit spaces, who participated in an online discussion addressing 5 key challenges that Covid-19 has impacted their respective communities.
The report found five key challenges for the community builders who took part in this discussion – building deep relationships online; community members feeling distress; lack of ideas with online engagement; people’s interest for community during a pandemic; and being unsure of the type of content to be sharing at this current point in time.
“We have to understand that people are not used to building deep relationships virtually so it’s important to over-communicate with your people online now and to be consistent with that active interaction in order to better engage them,” said Andee Chua, Co-Founder of Kampung Collective. It is important to engage in active discussions and to create space for two-way communication and interaction – rather than simply sharing information.
Community builders should understand that every community is different and there is no one-size-fits-all platform or tool to engage with their group. It is the best time now to explore different options to discover which is best suited for their community.
It is also crucial to pay importance to the mental well-being of your community members in times of crisis. People are losing their jobs, facing distress and uncertainty, feeling lost and unsure of what’s to come ahead. “What community builders could do is to check in with their members individually, personalize the messages and reach out to them consistently and regularly. It could be at a time or of content that they least expect, but that is why it is so powerful!” said Nicholas Gerard, Regional Senior Business Development Manager of Peatix.
Stephanie Arrowsmith, Co-Founder of Impact Hub Jakarta also added, “It is important to establish hand gestures to show and express emotions and feelings during your virtual calls. A lot of these cues are lost when we move from the offline to online spaces and we must be conscious of our “over-acting” to express ourselves.”
The report suggested various ways to help your community through this tough time, such as daily huddles or coffee chats to talk openly about feelings, practising empathy, knowing the community’s immediate needs, as well as how you can add value and address their critical problems.
The physical distance and also the screen between the communications already are barriers to communicating as effectively as a face-to-face interaction. Being able to present the situation as a common cause to increase solidarity of “being in the same boat” definitely helps with connecting on a deeper level.
“By showing vulnerability through our words and action, we are able to portray authenticity and build trust. This helps in a deeper personal human connection. And definitely we prefer video calls over emails and messaging,” said Alex Loh, Co-Founder of Kampung Collective.
The discussion also brought to light more areas for further consideration and have been tabled for the next online meet-up. Some key areas to highlight would be the issue of digital overload with everything now being brought onto the online space; the possible consolidation of resources and channels as a solution to sieve through all the content (noise) for the most relevant to the receiver; attending to those who do not have the means to have the information delivered to them through online channels; and also understanding if the new engagement systems that have been put in place will be the new norm as a long-term implementation for community builders, even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
For a more detailed report of the data, you may access it here.
Kampung Collective is a Community for Community Builders across Asia. Our core mission which seeks to Educate, Gather, Connect and Build are our key drivers to achieve our vision to elevate Community Building as a credible professional career.
We serve as a support network - a safe space for community builders to connect, share best practices, learn, grow and uplift one another in the community building journey.
We have over 300 community builders in the group, from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China & India, and we are always growing and seeking more passionate community builders to join the community.
If you are a passionate community builder and wish to be part of this family, apply to join now!