ByJay Bigford
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Turning Talk into action

We’ve pulled together some examples of how online communities are making a difference.

Our previous blog article explored what it is that makes an effective online community. Yoke’s philosophy centers on using design for social change and so we’ve turned our focus to the great potential that online communities have in inspiring positive change.

Bringing people together to share information and ideas about issues that matter to them can be an incredibly powerful tool for bringing about positive action. By coming together we can share resources, inspire each other and support each other when times get difficult.

“Together we are greater than the sum of our parts.”


We’ve highlighted what we think are the essential features of online community’s to inspire people to make change:

– Case-studies – Offer inspiration with stories of success
– Groups – Allow people to connect on specific topics/issues
– Resources – Provide people with the tools to make change
– Challenges – Small steps to inspire change on a personal level


Case-studies are a fantastic tool for inspiring others. By sharing the story of an individual who has made a difference in some way how someone has made a difference to their local community for example, people can relate to it and see that change really is within their reach and that individuals really do have the power to make things happen!


By giving the option for people to join groups (in a similar way to Facebook) people can connect with others with a specific interest or within a particular geographical area. Making change can be a difficult thing on your own but by providing the means for people to get together and share inspiration this can be a powerful tool. By forming groups of people with a specific shared interest, sharing discussion becomes more relevant and a lot less daunting than posting it on the site as a whole. By being part of a group, users are able to get a lot more familiar with each other, building up stronger connections. Developing relationships like this means that the community is likely to be more active. Geographical groups can be particularly useful in inspiring change in local communities – it can provide a forum for people to connect and discuss the issues that matter to them. The ’Group’ could then become a ‘local action group’ that meets not only online but in the real world.


It’s all very well providing people with a space to connect but it’s important to provide them with the tools to turn talk into action. Macmillan Cancer Support’s Campaigning Guide Book is a great example of this. It provides all the information someone might need to start their own campaign. This Guide Book also contains inspiring case studies (see above) of others that have got involved and the benefits it has brought.


Not all of us are keen to get out there and become active in campaigning on bringing about change at top level but that isn’t the point. It’s important to realise that as individuals we each have tremendous power to influence change simply by the choices we make and the actions we take. By encouraging members of the online community to set challenges, this can be a great way to inspire people to take small steps to make change in their own life and have fun in the process!

In our previous blog article we looked at as an example of a thriving online community getting it right. They describe their site as a place for ‘pragmatic idealists’ to connect with other like-minded individuals and organisations to discuss topics and issues that matter to them with the aim of inspiring positive change. On their homepage GOOD feature a ‘Together Let’s…’ panel with a challenge, inviting people to ‘Do it’. By showing how many other people are ‘Doing it’, this is a great way of inspiring others – no one likes to be the black sheep…


Online communities are designed specifically for their target users and therefore use a whole host of different methods of engaging their audience but if you’re aim is to inspire action then featuring Groups, Case-studies, Challenges and Resources are a sure-fire way of giving people the tools and inspiration to turn talk into action.

If you’re interested in online communities then check out one of our latest projects, an accessible online community for the people of Gloucestershire: You’re Welcome.