One thing confirmed in 2020 was that humans crave community and that they’ll adapt as necessary. The isolation that we all endured as the pandemic began to unfold was almost unbearable to some. Thankfully we live in a digital age and found new ways to connect.
Virtual relationships are becoming more common and they will be a big part of the future. Some call this a hybrid life. At SXSW we learned how companies such as Tinder, Twitch and Peloton have thrived off of virtual communities.
Gen Z constitutes over 50% of Tinder’s audience. They are leading the charge into virtual life and experiences, with the pandemic driving many of these new behaviors. Tinder offered a way for people to connect online when there was an overwhelming sense of loneliness in 2020, and even now trickling into 2021. Since businesses were closed and large groups were prohibited, people needed to do activities together outside. Instead of Tinder taking a downfall during the pandemic, they did quite the opposite. People used Tinder more than ever to meet at parks, go hiking, roller skating, sit at lakes, etc. This online dating app did not keep people inside, but due to Covid, actually encouraged people to go outside to spend time together.
Tinder also created a passport feature where you can drop into any town and start to meet people in that area.
Twitch, the video game live-streaming app, is all about community, connecting to a creator and the community attached to that creator. Twitch’s marketing efforts are focused on community, and the human connection element. Everyone craves a shared experience of some sort. That’s what builds these communities. Although the creators and followers in the community may have never met in real-life, they meet virtually through the app and all have something in common, which is their passion for whatever it is the creator is offering. This creates a sense of belonging amongst each other and is a huge driving force in keeping people coming back. Covid-19 elevated time spent on Twitch and acted as a sort of medicine or temporary solution to people’s heightened loneliness.
Peloton has been asking the question: How can their experiences keep the human element? They decided to make sure they were marketing how those interactions were happening on the platform.
They have leaned into powerful ways that connect members such as encouraging high fives, and creating tags that allow you to create micro communities within the Peloton platform. When targeting consumers their goal is to showcase those features revolving around community. Storytelling is huge for Peloton. Capturing members’ stories of their experience building community has been their advantage.
The Artist Series
They also started an “artist series” which is so much more than just a 30-40 min ride. Artists such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Pitbull, and Bad Bunny are collaborating with Peloton to release customized workouts paired with their soundtracks. It’s a celebration of music. People join Peloton for physical AND mental health. Peloton is putting out engaging AND motivating content.
This artist series not only brings together people who have a shared love for a particular artist but it also allows them to tap into culture. Dara Treseder, SVP Head of Global Marketing mentioned that the black community had some hesitation stepping into the world of Peloton asking the question “Is this a space where I belong? Do I fit in here?” The artist series, particularly showcasing strong black women is helping them feel like they belong. In other words, the artist series is giving more access to different audiences. Music goes beyond division, it unites people through their love of music. Influencers have had a powerful impact in this industry and play a vital role in creating micro communities, and bringing others together to engage in a shared experience.
Humans crave a sense of belonging. They need to be connected to others and to interact with others. In recent years some technology has been criticized for potentially adversely affecting human interaction. However, 2020 introduced challenges that most of us had never experienced. The ability to bond virtually through the apps described above and others was instrumental in helping people make it through a long and lonely year. Communities will continue to be critical for humans, and technology will continue to evolve and shift the way communities are formed. Keep an open mind and explore your options!