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Last updated:  
March 16, 2020

The Importance of Online Conversations and Digital Communities

Wilfried Rijsemus

A new reality. Locked down in your house and waiting for the storm to pass by while your work has to continue. Everybody's work!

For years I have been working on building online communities. I'm not a fan of telling other people "I told you so" and I certainly won't start now. What did happen is that all that work we have been doing organizing trusted conversations with big strategies and programs all of a sudden were dressed down to the essentials: People rely on trusted conversations! Especially in a time of need. Every team member had their screen open waiting for the communication to come in.

They did not look in their inbox but on the internal community which has grown from a 'nice to have' to a 'mission critical' instrument to quickly share the right information. The same goes for our customers and partners who were served out to the same platform. We always decided that we would include our customers and partners into our conversations, effectively being a community instead of running one.

I found telling myself "I told you so!". All these plannings, evolutionary thinking, vistas, design choices, concepts etc. converged into one event: The COVID-19 crisis. Even for me, this event was a revelation and has strengthened my idea that if you do not have your online conversations organized, employees, customers and partners somehow will remember this and will rate you lower on their future decisions.

After Covid

So, here we are. History has these defining moments that people refer to. "Before WWII", "After 9/11". The new phrase soon will be "After Covid" and that implies that some things will change forever and won't return to how they were before. One of them is the online conversation.

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