The widespread use of digital interactions offers brands and consumers several new and convenient ways to interact. You still see conventional advertising like billboards or commercials on Spectrum cable TV. Brands now have access to a much larger audience and can reach out to them through various channels. From search engines to social media to smartphone apps, audience engagement has undergone a near-complete transformation.
But for all the new platforms, channels, and audiences, many business leaders agree on one thing. The quantity of interactions is on the rise, but there are very few genuine connections. And this doesn’t just apply to interactions between brands and consumers, interpersonal connections as well. This behavior change may offer significant opportunities to brands like yours in terms of community marketing. Read on to find out what it is and how you can leverage it for your business.
Community Marketing and How Brands Can Leverage Opportunities
Social media gets a fairly bad rep, and it has done so almost since the earliest platforms emerged. But the fact remains that there is no hard evidence to suggest social media use adds to mental health problems or makes an impact on loneliness. However, there is no denying that a lot of people can and do feel lonely from time to time. In a business context, this represents a problem and that means if your brand can come up with the solution to it, you stand to benefit. This is where community marketing comes in. Here’s how:
What Is Community Marketing?
Community marketing is (like most types of marketing) designed to appeal to certain aspects of human nature and behavior. In this case, the human nature to focus on is a need to feel connected. Being able to socialize and connect meaningfully is a very human trait. And the absence of that could be a gap that community marketing can fill in. The answer, of course, lies in offering and nurturing a space around your brand for a community to grow.
Unlike other types of marketing, community marketing does not focus on new customer acquisitions. Instead, it is built around creating deeper connections among existing brand audiences. It can involve various approaches to an existing community of buyers or interested prospects. This includes but is not limited to:
- Expanding brand awareness
- Reinforcing brand messaging
- Retaining more existing customers
- Enhancing interactions within communities
- Building brand loyalty among the community
Understanding the Aspects of a Good Brand Community
A digital community may not exist in the same space as a physical community. But most aspects of a good digital community mirror that of any real community. The word “community” can have different meanings for different people. But certain themes typically remain the same across good communities. A healthy and thriving community will almost always have:
- A sense of belonging where members want to feel connected to other members
- A sense of influence and ownership where all members have a voice within the community
- A feeling of fulfillment and acceptance where members can feel integrated and included
- A connection among members based on shared attributes, histories, and interests
These 4 recurring themes can form the blueprint of any community, including a digital brand community. Of course, recreating them in a digital space can be more difficult than organic or in-person reactions. Forced attempts like feel-good community messaging can and does backfire. The key to success is finding a balance between creating an inclusive community and the importance you expect your offerings to hold in the customer lifecycle. There may also be the added pressure to be responsive while maintaining safety and inclusivity across the community in a digital space.
Tips to Build a Stronger Brand Community
Based on the above information, it may be apparent that building a strong and meaningful community is much harder than people think. But it is not impossible, merely challenging. Therefore, be prepared to put in a lot of work into building a working community. That also includes being prepared for unique variables, changes, and setbacks. However, the following tips may serve well to get you started. When building your brand community, pay special attention to:
Figure out the size of your current audience. Drive community traffic from the customers you already have. Make use of all tools necessary to gain your audience’s attention and encourage them to become more active community members.
Choosing the Right Platform
There is a very large number of platforms out there that can be useful for community marketing. But choosing the platform will require focusing on 2 things. Firstly, you need to make sure which user demographics use the platforms you are looking at. Secondly, you need to decide whether the platforms under consideration are well-suited to the type of community you want to build
Be the Conversation Starter
As communities grow and thrive, they often don’t need a brand representative at the helm. But for the most part, community founders have to initiate activity. You’ll have a very active role in the initial phase when it comes to generating engagement and interactions within the community. However, once you get the ball rolling, the community can often become self-sufficient and even start attracting new community members on its own.
Find Moderators Among the Community
Of course, the ultimate goal with community marketing is to grow your brand community. But what if your community grows beyond the ability of a single community manager? Appointing moderator roles is very important for any online community. The internet is full of trolls and disruptive individuals. Therefore, appointing moderators from within the community can help keep interactions meaningful, safe, and inclusive.
Promote Your Community
Don’t forget to maximize community visibility. FOMO is a powerful motivating factor. Marketing your community can help supplement your new customer acquisitions as well as increase visibility. You may have to apply different techniques to achieve this. And it may not always work. But if successful, you may find your brand making a real and meaningful impact among your target audience.