A year of online communities
As the pandemic continued throughout 2021, we’ve seen brands and organizations increasingly turn to online communities as a way to build and maintain relationships online.
A new study by PeerBoard found that there has been a significant 81% growth in the engagement of online communities since the start of the COVID-pandemic. Businesses and brands have also woken up to the importance of online communities, as the online communities market had an estimated increase from $392.95 million in 2014 to $1.2 billion in 2021 according to the PeerBoard study.
The COVID-19 pandemic has moved online communities from a nice-to-have to a must-have for companies, brands, NGOs and others.
Launching new communities
The forward-thinking organizations that took the important step of launching their online communities in 2021 with Open Social included:
Better Care Network
This interagency network facilitating global information exchange and collaboration on the issue of children without adequate family care went live with their online community called Transforming Children’s Care.
Dutch Cycling Embassy
The Dutch Cycling Embassy has an extensive network of public and private companies and decided to launch their Open Social platform Dutch Cycling Community to connect these stakeholders in order to promote and build a bicycle-friendly world for all.
While DiabetesFonds already had a community network, in 2021 they decided to reinvigorate it by switching their online support community diabetestype1.nl to Open Social.
Greenwire Central Eastern Europe
The Greenwire Central Eastern Europe community launched this year, offering an international community platform for Greenpeace CEE’s regional office that include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
We wish all of these new communities (as well as existing ones) all the success in 2022!
OpenEuropa Communities goes live
One of the biggest projects we’ve embarked on in 2021 is the launch of OpenEuropa Communities. In June this year, Open Social was selected by the European Commission to launch an open-source community platform that can be used by any and all EU institutions.
The OpenEuropa Communities project is led by the European Commission Directorate-General for Informatics and is part of a broader initiative to spearhead the adoption of open-source tools and technologies across Commission departments and EU institutions.
We have already launched a number of platforms for EU institutions, including the Education for Climate community.
Read the full project press release here.
Partnering with ASSOCIATIONWORLD
Associations and organizations in the meetings industry have increasingly found that it is critical to foster online communities in a time when online and hybrid events disrupt traditional models and modes of operation.
Our Community Evangelist Mathijs Vleeming wrote in an August blog post titled Why a Community Approach Is Essential in Times of Disruption:
“Now is the time for associations to go back to your core business of community building.”
This is why ASSOCIATIONWORLD chose Open Social as a global partner this year to support its mission of building their global association movement and facilitating forward-thinking strategies in the meeting industry.
“For us at ASSOCIATIONWORLD, Open Social came at the right time to help build that safe space that allows and empowers association professionals to engage in the most meaningful way one can do so online”
– Kai Troll, President of ASSOCIATIONWORLD
Read the full project press release here.
A year of sharing new knowledge
This year has also been a great year for creating and sharing new knowledge about online community building and member engagement.
A particular highlight has been the series of webinars and online panel discussions that we’ve held throughout the year by inviting fascinating expert guest speakers.
You can watch the recordings of our top webinars here:
- Social media vs owned platforms: Where should I be building my online community?
- Manage Your Online Community Efficiently with Seamless Platform Integrations
- Create a Member Engagement Journey with the Community Experience Pyramid
- Unite diverse community stakeholders using online spaces
- Creating more engaging and interactive online events using an online community
See all our webinar recordings here.
Top blog posts
We have published an impressive 35 blog posts this year, covering interesting topics such as:
- Online community trends for 2021
- Social media vs online community platforms
- Digital-first strategies
- Community member onboarding best practices
See all our blog posts here.
To help community managers engage their members more effectively and meaningfully we created a brand new guide this year: 31 Community Engagement Ideas
We also create a unique new guide for NGOs and volunteer organizations to help them attract, activate and retain volunteers online: Online Volunteer Community Guide
See all our guides here.
A year of unprecedented growth
An abundance of diverse new talent
We’ve grown much as a company in 2021, more than doubling the company size in the span of a single year. We have welcomed new developers, UI and UX designers, a community strategy consultant, HR representatives and more.
What makes our team unique is its incredible diversity. We have 23 nationalities in our company working out of seven different countries in the world. With a team like this, we are ready to become the international leader in online community software!
We plan to double the team again in 2022, with 10 more open vacancies already published.
If you want to join our amazing growing team, you can take a look at our Career page.
Launching Open Social V.11
We recently rolled out Open Social Version 11.0.0, an upgrade of the core software on which all our communities run.
The new version release of Open Social is focused on upgrading engine under the hood that drives everything. The biggest update is of course complete compatibility of Open Social with Drupal 9.
Drupal 9 promises cutting-edge new features, a focus on reaching new digital channels while strengthening its foundation as a content management framework. Upgrading to Drupal 9 means that Open Social is linked into that roadmap moving forward, being fully compatible with new releases of Drupal and benefitting from future feature releases.
New Features and Extensions
Our teams have also been busy upgrading, updating and creating new features and extensions.
We have continuously worked on making Open Social more intuitive, flexible and streamlined throughout the year. New or improved features include:
- Zero-permission user role
- Email performance and consistency improvements
- Stabilization of core features like groups, users, profiles and registration.
- Re-imagined content forms
- Photo album feature
- Flexible groups
This year we also launched our newly updated Native App extension, giving community members the choice to access the best version of your community from their preferred device.
Throughout 2021 we also developed new game-changing extensions and integration to help organizations engage and manage their community members better. Our extended suite of extensions include:
- Multi-language Interface
- Salesforce Integration
- Content scheduler
- Organization Profiles
- Mailchimp Integration
- Video Upload
- Zoom Integration
See all our new and existing integrations and extensions here.
A message from Taco Potze, Open Social Founder and CEO
“As the year closes out, I look back on 2021 and I can hardly believe how much we’ve achieved in such a seemingly short time. It has been an intense year for Open Social, full of thrilling developments for the company, our teams and platform.
We’ve seen the Open Social team almost double over the year, with top international talent joining us. We’ve launched new globe-spanning communities that promise to change the world for the better and we have partnered with the European Commission to drive open-source adoption across the continent.
It has been a year of exceptional work done by the Open Social team, and for that I would like to give my deepest thanks. To the clients and organizations that we’ve been working with, it has been inspiring to see what you have done with Open Social’s online platform and tools: from breaking down inter-agency barriers at the UN, to helping create Canada’s first circular food economy and giving diabetes type-1 patients access to support and treatment.
In 2021 we have set up everything we need to take on the world. The team is in place, the path is clear and we are primed to become the leading online community solution for purpose-driven brands and organizations around the world. We look forward to new challenges, milestones and all-time highs in 2022.”
From Open Social, we wish you all a happy new year and look forward to sharing new milestones with you in the coming year!