Filipino lives and that of the world have turned upside down these past six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Things people used to do without worries — like shopping, going to the gym, attending a cooking class, meeting friends—have instantly become things of the past. At least for the time being as medical experts predict that the pandemic may drag still on for months or even years.
With the present set up, most of the people are now glued to their screens, looking for ways to find a sense of normalcy and community and manage their anxieties at a time when physical distancing means saving lives.
And did you know that Viber plays a major role in many lives right now? And Viber has its own people that connect one life to another?
Now, meet the people who created some of your favorite Viber Communities while in quarantine, keeping their members’ companies and loneliness at bay.
Good vibes and quarantine baking
When KG Sison, a marketing consultant, saw an unanswered query about baking suppliers in one of the Communities she was already part of, she decided to create her own.
Homebaking Community, though initially dedicated to baking supplies, evolved into a thriving support group that shared baking tips, hacks, and many more.
“We encouraged members to post their creations and freely ask baking-related questions. We wanted to be a legit community—a place where people talked and made friends instead of being transactional in nature,” Sison said.
Sison said managing a community made her less lonely during the quarantine, emphasizing how these Communities have become a source of positivity for her and the members.
“Even our members have reported that the group has made them less lonely and anxious during the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine). It served as a form of social support for us and our members,” she said, sharing how webinars have been produced and future field trips planned.
“We made friends. I think this was the greatest surprise and blessing that I gained from these Viber Communities.”
Since then, Sison has indeed lived up to being a superadmin, establishing other groups like Homecooking Community, Urban Gardening, and MNL Sourdough Fam Community, all of which have the same community vibe – “less selling, more interaction.” It wasn’t until recently that she decided to create the Homebakers Marketplace, providing Community members another venue to sell their baked goods during the quarantine.
“I use a variety of chat platforms, but I noticed that the general public uses Viber, and that means more reach. But more importantly, I find that there are fewer trolls on Viber because you need to have a phone number attached to an account,” she pointed out.
Staying active together at home
With gyms closed during ECQ, fitness enthusiasts were pushed to modify their workouts and do their routines at home.
And for those who didn’t have what they needed, the Gym & Fitness Marketplace MM Viber Community became a lifesaver.
This haven was where everyone who was looking for jump ropes and yoga mats, to more specific gym equipment like spinning bikes and squat racks, flocked to.
Created by Celina Payawal, an entrepreneur, after she noticed that there was no community dedicated to the fitness market, the group that was only supposed to cater to those living in Metro Manila grew to include members from Tarlac, Ilocos, and Cebu.
Apart from connecting buyers to sellers and helping SMEs sustain their businesses, Payawal as the superadmin sees the Community as a place where everyone can encourage each other to stay fit and healthy while the world battles a deadly virus.
Given the popularity of the messaging app in the Philippines, it’s easy for superadmins like her to connect with like-minded individuals and help sellers reach out to customers.
It really was a no brainer for her, pointing out how Viber made sure that superadmins got the features they needed to manage their Community well, from pinning posts, choosing notification settings, to deleting unwanted messages.
A major point for Payawal is how Viber allows Community members to chat with each other without having to share their numbers. “It’s a safe place for all online sellers and buyers to be able to transact with each other, since they don’t have to divulge their personal numbers, providing them both convenience and security,” she said.
Shopping safely for essentials
Since the virus forced many stores and SMEs to close indefinitely, several entrepreneurs have been struggling to sell their products to a wider base.
Terry Ilagan noticed this and decided to create the Locale City Guide, a Viber Community that catalogs essential items sold by SMEs. From auto shop services to face shields, members were welcome to sell their products from the safety of their homes.
Ilagan chose Viber because of its unlimited member capacity and easy invite features. She thought it would be a great way to sell a wide array of goods. Community members can find pre-cooked meals and groceries to keep them well-fed over quarantine, delivery services to maintain social distancing guidelines, direct distributors, wholesalers, and retailers to keep business supplies moving, COVID essentials, and even entertainment products like gaming equipment and streaming links.
Ilagan knew she was doing something right when sellers began reaching out to him to thank him for creating the Community. “It may sound shallow, but being able to extend help by posting a seller’s homemade pastries and knowing that she made some bucks, gave me a pleasant feeling that lasted throughout the day,” she said.
Uplifting neighborhoods and communities
One evening in March, Diane Jimeno was looking through a Viber Community that gave residents of Bonifacio Global City a catalog of goods and services they could avail of over quarantine. She decided that her community, Acacia Estates, needed one too, and decided to make it herself. The Acacia Estates Residents Community initially was dedicated to health updates on the pandemic.
But later, people began using the community as a way to sell their products.
“We decided to just accommodate the sellers in the group, but the community kept on growing rapidly that having community updates related to COVID-19 was almost impossible to discuss,” said Jimeno.
Several of Jimeno’s neighbors began thanking her for giving them a space to do business. “Being able to promote micro and small businesses in the community helped people especially during these trying times,” she said. Though many were feeling the economic crisis of the pandemic, the people of Acacia Estates had a platform to keep their livelihoods afloat and support one another.
Now, it’s your turn to share your Viber story. Let Viber know how the app became part of your daily life. Send your story over to [email protected]
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