People-first for meaningful connections

Why Community Platforms Should Be People-First

4 min read

As a Community Manager, you have endless possibilities when it comes to choosing a community platform. But while most of these platforms have a host of benefits, not that many put people first, neither prioritize meaningful connections, valuable engagement, and tangible benefits. Community platforms and social media platforms are generally built around content, but this isn’t necessarily a recipe for success for many communities.


To put this in context, let’s imagine for a moment that your community is focused on connecting founders to startup businesses. In this scenario, you’d want to create a space where valuable content can be shared, but more importantly, you want to facilitate connections, conversations, and meeting opportunities between members so that they can achieve their goals for joining the community in the first place. Ultimate success would depend on people coming together and leveraging the meaningful connections they make, and not necessarily on the content that they consume.

What does ‘people-first' really mean? And why does it matter?

As the term suggests, people-first community spaces help you build pathways to people, by keeping the needs, goals, and user experience of the members in mind.


When the focus is solely on content and not people, on the other hand, it’s difficult for community members to know who is behind the content. Therefore, it doesn't really create a sense of belonging and connection. This is seldom what members join a community for – after all, they can find that in abundance on any search engine or social media platform. Rather, they join a community in order to meet with like-minded people, make meaningful connections, and learn and grow.


Platforms that share content, but also allow you to get to know and meet the people behind that content makes it all the more valuable because members understand the context of who is posting and why they’re posting.

Aren’t all community platforms people-first?

While the intention might be there, not all community platforms are people-first. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack provide an interface and structure that prioritizes posting, liking, or commenting, but often fail to easily allow people to search, recall or categorize the content at a later stage. There are also often limited profile customization capabilities, event management, or focused discussion groups, making it difficult to find like-minded people or facilitate meaningful conversations.

Can social media be people-first?

Social media has undoubtedly redefined modern communication in ways few other technological innovations have. But with all its successes – and there are many – it has several downsides, particularly around building genuine and meaningful connections. There are many ways in which social media could improve, considering that very often it:


1. Prioritizes content. We need only look at how algorithms work to understand the way in which content is rewarded. ‘Success’ is measured in engagement, accumulating followers and engagement, rather than on making meaningful connections, and other tangible benefits. When your content isn’t rewarded, your searchability, and even perceived relevance, can be compromised.

2. Is built around content, and its functionalities reflect that. Therefore chats, networking, events, archiving, and even profile customization are all very limited for the goals that a community might have.

3. Does not prioritize individual communities, and so members are bombarded with endless distractions from other communities, groups, and ads.

4. Has limited filtering and screening options, meaning that almost anyone can join. This can be damaging to focused communities with goals such as securing funding, finding mentors, and so forth.

5. It can be damaging to mental health, productivity, and energy, and keeping a community away from those types of spaces can only be beneficial over the long term.

Building people-first spaces

For nearly two years, human interaction has been largely restricted due to the ongoing pandemic. This has created a large obstacle for many communities. As we’re unlikely to ever return fully to the way things were before, thriving communities now need to facilitate both online and in-person interactions to connect the right people in the right space at the right time. This is where a people-first community platform plays a pivotal role.


Panion prioritizes the needs and end goals of members within communities. With its people-first features, it considers the way in which members want to connect, engage and draw knowledge from one another. It allows Community Managers to:


1. Screen joining members to ensure that communities stay relevant and focused in order to remain consistently valuable to all members.

2. Give members an opportunity to customize their profiles so that they can represent themselves authentically, and do match-making with other, like-minded people without additional input or management.

3. Create focused discussion groups to facilitate authentic engagement without any distractions from the larger community.

4. Offer members quick and easy content categorization and searching functionalities.

5. Give members the opportunity to create, share and join events with ease.


Book a demo with Panion today to discover how the platform puts your people first.

Edwain Steenkamp Content Editor and Writer at Panion
Edwain Steenkamp
Having worked in the media industry for 10 years, Edwain has a deep love for people and communication. As a part of the Panion team, he strives to inform, connect and inspire people from different parts of the world.