Community Building August 6, 2020

Why is "community" trending downwards on Google?

Neil Cocker @NeilC

community search results

These are the results from the last 15+ years, and show a clear downward trajectory.

The same is true for "Community Building" too.

At a time when building community (whether that's around a product, or for more altruistic reasons) seems to be more important than ever, I find this surprising.

Any thoughts?

  1. 6

    Possibly because of the TV show "Community," which ended in 2015, which is around the point that the decline flatlined.

    Or maybe because the concept of a social network, which was rarely discussed pre-Facebook, exploded and began eating into some of the discussion around community.

    Or maybe because community was mostly thought of as an in-person thing 15 years ago, and that's in decline. So even if it's more important online than ever, that's been more than offset by its offline decline.

    1. 1

      That's really insightful, thanks! Think they could all be responsible.

      It'd be a shame if a TV show has more Google influence than the wider topic, though! (Even if it was a great show for its first few seasons... 😉 )

  2. 2

    I think this is 2 trends:

    1. "Facebook group" and "subreddit" trend upward. Searches that used to be "woodworker community" and might have gone to any random forum software are more likely to be e.g. "woodworker subreddit" today. The concept of community has consolidated into a few branded platforms.


    1. In spite (maybe because of) of the platitudes we recite about community, there can be a lot of aversion to it that isn't voiced. Everybody's had a bad experience on facebook, so if even if someone forms an intention to join [platform] group about X, their next thought might be to worry about if they will have a good experience and talk themselves out of it.
    1. 1

      That's really interesting, thanks! And smart insight, too. It just struck me that it was odd to be trending downwards, but Google Trends is clearly not a nuanced enough source of data for something like this.

  3. 2

    This actually made me go to Exploding Topics and look to see what they had, but there's nothing on community, the closest is 'community engagement'. Maybe @jhowarth15 could add it in? 🥰

    1. 1

      Aha Rosie 😊 thanks for looking it up on Exploding Topics!

      Yeah community engagement has a solid upwards trajectory.

      I just added community building which does look to be trending up slightly. And it's spiked massively in the last few months since Covid came along.

      1. 1

        Great, thanks @rosiesherry & @jhowarth15 - really interesting!

        I'd not come across Exploding Topics before, and it's a great tool. Yes, Google-only is not a perfect indicator of interest.

        I assume you see a lot of cases like this, where Google Trends and Exploding Topics have different outputs?

        1. 2

          Glad you like it Neil :)

          ET data is related to Google trends data so usually you see similar patterns. But "community building" perhaps more precisely reflects the search intent you're looking for. Which I think is the reason for the difference versus "community".

          1. 2

            Really interesting, thanks!

            And I'll definitely be using ET in the future in conjunction with Trends, for fuller insight.

  4. 1

    watch it spike back up when they come out with a movie

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