Last week I talked about getting involved in local online communities as a way to better market church events and, more importantly, reach more people in your community with the Gospel. You would find these online communities in your local Yellow Pages. So, how do you find these online communities?
Here are 5 Simple Ways to Find Local Online Communities:
1. Search in Google and Bing.
If you do a search in Google or Bing for “your city forums” or “your city online communities”, you should be able to find forums and communities related to your city.
2. Search for Groups Related to Your City In Facebook.
At the top of any Facebook page is a search bar. From that search bar do a search for your city. You will probably get a list of individuals in your initial results, but if you look on the left side of the results page, you should see the option to search for Groups. Click that option to find groups related to your city.
3. Search for Tweeters in Your City.
In Twitter you can do an advanced search for people in or near your city. In the results, look for Twitter accounts that are about the city. This is also a great way to find the online leaders of your city. Look for the people with the most followers and connect with them.
4. Check the Websites of Local Organizations.
Beyond searching, you can check the city resources, local news, and local radio stations’ websites. Many of these sites have lists of ways to get involved in the community, including online community forums, groups, and information sites.
5. Ask Around.
I know it seems obvious and over-simplified, but simply asking the people if they know of (or better yet, participate in) any local online communities is a great way find these communities. After all, if these communities are really being used, you should be able to find people using them. One thing to keep in mind, however, as you ask people is that you should ask people beyond your immediate social circle. The wider a group of people you ask, the better information you will get.
In all the searches above you can also be more specific than just your city, if you want to search for communities related to a certain activity/group in your town.
If you find a lot sites, ease in slowly. No need to overwhelm yourself by joining 20 groups at the same time. Try a few and get a feel for them. Gauge how active the groups are. Are people actively participating? How often are people posting? Look for the ones with more activity and engage in them. The ones without much activity, you may want to ignore for now.
Of course, if you don’t find any online communities, you can always start one yourself.
Photo by Bart van de Biezen
Look around for some local communities and share with us how it goes. What worked best?