Hyperlocal Social: Community and belonging

Social isolation and digital fatigue has spurred consumers into a more profound kinship with their local spaces. Nearly 3 in 10 younger Gen Zs want brands to contribute to their local community, with 4 in 10 saying they expect greater corporate social responsibility.

Brands need to meet those calls for brands to act in support of local economies and fan bases. But, ultimate success hinges on whether this can be done with transparency, integrity and accountability.

1. From Facebook Groups to Neighbourhoods

As the pandemic upended consumers’ notions of safety and support networks, many turned to social media for both connection and practical assistance. 77% of Facebook’s Community Insights Survey respondents said the most critical group they were part of operated online, while location-based social app Nextdoor reported an 80% increase in users.

National Geographic’s ‘Women of Impact’ Facebook Group is a 71.3k members-strong private collaborative space moderated by Audience Development lead Lena Shareef. The Peloton Member Page (430.2k members), enables users to uplift each other and share exercise plans and training methods, while Tasty’s Community (314K members) keeps engagement high with small-group activities, daily polls and competitions.

Hyperlocal Social: Community and belonging

National Geographic's 'Women of Impact'

2. Localising the Live Stream

With 69 million entries under its #shoplocal hashtag alone, Instagram is now promoting in-stream commerce as an integral part of its creator monetisation suite. Its latest call-to-action? ‘Get paid for work you do for your community’.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s brick-and-mortar Good Ideas Shops allow visitors to discover and buy from local small businesses by scanning QR codes on their storefront’s pop-up displays.

Hyperlocal Social: Community and belonging

Facebook's 'Good Ideas Shops'

3. Local Legends Driving Culture on Social

During the pandemic, TikTokers worldwide turned to their immediate surroundings for inspiration. Home-proud Australian and New Zealander travellers flaunted off-the-beaten-track spots, while in Mexico, users turned to TikTok to keep up the family reunions and community celebrations.

In 2022, the platform introduced its Explore Your Area content hub complete with Local Legends, #PlacesToVisit and Shop Local tabs - incentivising creators to act as neighbourhood guides for a chance to be featured.

London’s top talent, including teen star Kyle Thomas (@kylethomas, 32 million followers), comedian Ehiz Ufuah (@_ehiz, 12.4 million followers), and Michelin star chef Poppy O'Toole (@poppycooks, 2.1 million followers) joined forces for the launch of TikTok For You House in Westfield London. The immersive pop-up space comprised room-based activities, like The Dressing Room, which hosted beauty, fashion and transformation challenges, or The Kitchen, to demonstrate viral recipes and cook-offs.

Hyperlocal Social: Community and belonging

TikTok's 'For You House'

4. Snapchat Builds Richer Cities with AR

Snapchat’s AR Landmarks feature, a new Custom option in Lens Studio, enables users to create location-locked AR experiences layered onto real-world infrastructures. The ultimate goal, said Snap, is “letting creators anchor Lenses to local places they care about – from statues to storefronts – to tell richer stories about their communities through AR”.

In New York City, creator QReal has transformed the storefront of ‘Yu and Me Books’, the city’s first independent bookshop owned by an Asian-American woman, into a paper pop-up book. In Los Angeles, creator BLNK transformed Paul Smith’s pink wall into a multi-hyphenate AR canvas featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa’s new song, ‘Sweetest Pie’.

Hyperlocal Social: Community and belonging

Snap's Custom Landmarkers

So, what does this mean for brands?

  1. With personalisation becoming an imperative, customers expect to have their needs tended to around the clock. Brands need to create meaningful touchpoints to bridge their URL and IRL journey into an intuitive omnichannel experience.

  2. Communicate meaningfully and often, building safe spaces for community interaction and storytelling. Consider unlocking value with members-only discounts, competitions, and product updates.

  3. Locate cult communities using hashtags and gauge their interests, then create content that resonates with them.

  4. Increase brand affinity by curating local talent pools. Invite micro and mid-creators to join early in the campaign creation cycle to unlock niche audience insights.

  5. Celebrate authentic stories by hosting creator-led live streams around key community events.

  6. Enhance your brick-and-mortar experience by providing exclusive access to AR-powered content, special offers, or limited edition ranges.

  7. Position your brand as a trustworthy partner by enforcing transparency and accountability across channels.