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Date of Publication: 13 May, 2022
The brand community may seem like an easy way to engage with fans and customers, but the truth is that they are a key part of your business strategy. Essentially, community building can help you achieve your business goals if you can keep the community members hooked.
Samsung Mobile was one of the first major advertisers to take such an approach in the rapidly-developing economy, having launched the Samsung Fun Club in 2004, in India. Playstation Community (Sony), SAP Community Network (SCN), Harley Owners Group (Harley-Davidson), My Starbucks Idea (Starbucks) are some of the top communities that has been contributing not just towards greater reach but also adding value during the customers journey. It encourages conversions and help to improve relationship with existing customers.
In this guide, we show you why you should have a brand community (if you don’t have one), and how to build and maintain one.
If you want to strengthen your brand and have better conversations with your customers, you should start building a brand community.
Brands would be wise to create a community that gathers their most loyal customers under one roof. In addition, your audience will enjoy interacting with like-minded people in these communities.
So let’s get started
In the simplest terms, a brand community is a group of like-minded people who have been engaged with your brand and are keen to come back again and again, showcasing brand loyalty at its finest. People in your brand community are emotionally invested; they will buy from your company, digest your content, tell their friends and family about your company, and more.
Brand community and brand awareness are two different things.
Even if someone is aware of your brand or has purchased from you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are engaged or even part of an engaging community.
You should think of your brand community as people who follow all your content on social media, who share your content and products with others, who enjoy seeing all your brand does, and takes pride in advocating the brand.
In other words, a brand community is a place where people who are emotionally connected to your brand can connect.
It’s crucial to realize that your brand’s social media community may already exist. It is your responsibility to locate this community, make direct contact with it, and develop a method for community members to interact with one another.
And you want to do it because your brand community is a power you have but just do not know.
Consider having a group of people who use your product or service on a regular basis to whom you may reach out. You can use this group to test new product mockups, ask questions about feature releases, exchange blog articles, and gather general feedback for improvement.
Because this community can help your brand to make customer-driven decisions and spread the word about your business, make sure you’re building a strong community that thrives and rewards your community members.
Let’s talk about how you can build a successful brand community that is mutually beneficial to both your brand and your audience.
If you study the popular brand communities that I have mentioned earlier, you would find these communities have certain well defined characteristics:
To thrive, brand communities should focus on meeting their audience’s needs. Whether they’re trying to navigate your product as new customers or need your advice on a topic, always be ready to jump in.
Everyone in a brand community plays a role, not just the business owner. For example, certain community members become “go-to gurus” in a specific topic or skill, while others are great conversation starters. The deeper the involvement, the more gaps are filled, which improves the community overall.
Strong brand communities have members who proactively share about the brand with their own social circles. However, to leverage the power of sharing, it’s important for brands to provide value. This can be in the form of a contest or giveaway, a loyalty program, a free ebook, training, or a course.
Last but not least, successful brand communities assure people that they can share their ideas and ask questions without feeling judged or ridiculed. As the leader of your brand community, you play a big role in making sure that your community is a positive place to be in. We’ll show you how in a while.
Brand community is a successful model. Give your fans and customers reason to stick around with these brand community characteristics. Yet if you still not clear about why put in time and money behind building the brand community you must keep reading.
Today in the digital age, building brand communities is a vital task in constructing a company. It is as important as your office, staff, and channel partners. A clear brand that resonates with consumers helps create a loyal community base that trusts and supports the company brand. This brand community then serves as its unofficial spokespeople, a true advocate.
The consumers of a specific brand regularly return to purchase the company’s goods or services because they become part of the brand’s community building. The more time and energy the company invests into their brand’s community, the more loyalty the consumers reciprocate with. When consumer expectations are met through connections with other brand fans, interaction with brand experts and other fulfilled promises from the company, customers’ trust in the brand grows. This results in a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their favorite brand and products.
When customers form a community around a brand that they love, they are often quite vocal about that brand. They may provide friends and relatives with glowing recommendations about the product, offering testimonies about the multiple benefits that can be had through the brand. As more people hear these testimonies, they get curious about the product and are likely to investigate the claims made. They are also more likely to purchase items recommended by someone they know. Studies indicate that simply following a company on Twitter, a form of a brand community, increases both the likelihood of recommending and buying that company’s goods and services by 50% or more.
Some of the best new ideas come from a brand community. As members share stories, exchange ideas and recommend changes to a product, it creates a free flow of information and research without the use of a research team to coordinate it all. Smart business people take these comments and questions into consideration and implement frequent requests and innovative suggestions into new designs, which further satisfies the customers while enhancing the product itself. Brand communities are essential tools that help companies ascertain what their buyers truly desire and how their products measure up to those wants and needs.
As businesses become more and more viral, social networking and connection have become required elements of any successful business plan. It is no longer enough for companies to have expert testimonies or research that backs up their claims. Today, they must also engage with the consumer, providing buyers with a sense of real personal connection and caring service providers. Brand communities provide businesses with a simple way to answer their client’s questions, provide instant customer service and interact daily with their customers in a friendly, public manner.
The management of any company today should now incorporate building brand community into their business plan itself. This energizing and interactive brand hub is much more than simple marketing strategies. It’s becoming the backbone of the modern business, providing your business with multiple cutting edge solutions and solid customer retention while ensuring that customers remain an active part of the businesses themselves.
If you want to build a community around your brand, you need to know what your brand is. This goes beyond what your business sells or offers.
This involves your mission, company vision, brand voice, and personality. What is your brand trying to do? Who is it trying to help? What does it want to be known for?
All of these are important to define before building a community. Because the more you showcase what your brand is all about, the more you’ll attract the target audience you’re looking for.
As I mentioned earlier, brand communities are a way for you to make customer-driven decisions and spread the word about your business. But you should ask yourself a lot of questions before creating a brand community.
These are just a few sample questions you should ask to guide you in the right direction when developing a strategy for your brand community.
Once you set these goals and metrics, the next two steps will be easier to handle.
While some brand communities come in the form of Facebook groups, yours doesn’t have to be. First and foremost, consider where your audience is already spending their time so you can meet them there.
Popular brand community examples include:
Loyalty programs are built for the purpose of encouraging customers to keep on doing business with you.
Starbucks, for example, has a rewards program with nearly 20 million members. This coffeehouse chain rewards its loyal customers by giving away stars at every purchase. As these stars add up, they can then be used to redeem free food and drinks! With this brand community, customers are able to enjoy their favorite coffee brand while also saving money down the road.
Your brand community could also be in the form of a forum or a discussion board. In addition, forums are beneficial for brands with a massive audience. Here’s an idea: If your business is in a broader niche, like fitness in general, for example, you can categorize your forum into more specific topics.
Spotify has created Spotify Community, a place where its audience can discuss music and podcasts, as well as get customer service support. Spotify takes also keeps its users in the loop by mentioning how many conversations took place, questions were answered, and new ideas were generated in the previous week.
There are two different ways you can manage your community on social media – by engaging through your platform or by creating a social media group.
A lot of brands today have their social media handles and most times keep commoning up with post ideas that are either not in sync with their brand or too commercial. The idea is to build association and fans to interact and engage. You don’t want appreciation you need engagement. Using social media you can build a community where fans can share their ideas, their feelings, and associations with your brand.
You can create a group and connect it to your Page to help build a brand community with your loyal customers. You can customise the group’s privacy settings depending on who you want to be able to join and see your group.
Once your group starts to become more active, take a look at your group’s insights to understand how members engage within your group, see who the most active group members are, and learn which posts have the most engagement. Doing so can help you foster more experiences around what people like.
Branded or campaign hashtags can form communities, aside from amplifying the reach of your content. Specific hashtags are great for building private communities (exclusive to your business) and making sure that all content shared using a specific hashtag is relevant.
A popular example of effective brand community building using hashtags is,
Nike has always been a visionary brand when it comes to creating a brand-associated lifestyle and a sense of community among fans. They approach the community hashtag as the most important of their hashtags. They almost always use the hashtag #justdoit or #nikewomen, as opposed to brand or product focussed hashtags.
► Pro Tip:
Many times, brands choose to use third-party platforms to help them facilitate a community.
Options for this include sites like Slack and Mobilize, where you can create various channels/topics for your community members to check out and start conversations in.
► Pro Tip:
After you’ve built your brand community, make sure that it’s easily accessible. Mention it from your other channels like your blog (write a blog post), your podcast, emails, and social media posts. In fact, link to it from your website footer to boost its visibility.
Guidelines are imperative for any community. They let members know how they’re expected to behave in a way that maintains respect and peace within the group. Your guidelines can include things like:
Establishing guidelines in place helps you build a strong community where members feel a true sense of belongingness.
Last but not least, the best way to maintain a community is to engage with it. Luckily, there are many ways to maintain engagement, such as:
It’s nearly impossible to serve your group well without getting outside help, especially if your group is growing fast. In that case, consider hiring someone who has the skill and experience to interact with people, is flexible, and unbiased.
If you’re thinking of starting a brand community, hopefully, this article guides you. It’s an opportunity to gather insights that will help your business, boost retention, and get more eyeballs on the content you’re already putting out. Make your brand community last through regular engagement and letting members know what’s expected of them.
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Even though you know the basics of building a brand community, you might still have questions about how it can work for your brand. At Tejom Digital, we have built a reputation for answering those tricky questions.
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