How to build a brand community for business
In the past, advertising was the main way for brands to get noticed. Brands that ran lots of ads got the most attention. But things have changed a lot, and nowadays, successful companies are all about creating a community around their brands.
A strong brand community is like having a group of people who really, really like your brand and are excited to tell others about it. These enthusiastic supporters are often called brand advocates, and they can be a big help in spreading the word about your business. Building this kind of community might be a bit more challenging for smaller companies, but the benefits can be tremendous.
First off, these community members are your most dedicated customers. They not only buy from you frequently, but they're also more likely to stick with your brand over time. That loyalty can be a game-changer for your business.
Secondly, they become your brand's biggest cheerleaders. They'll happily share with their friends and followers how great your company is, essentially doing some of your marketing for you. This word-of-mouth advertising is incredibly valuable.
Additionally, having these loyal fans on social media is a smart move. It allows you to keep them informed about new products, special offers, or exciting company news. They're your direct line to reach a wider audience.
Beyond these obvious benefits, there are some other reasons why brand communities are a fantastic idea for businesses today. They provide a more personal and authentic connection with your customers, helping you better understand their needs and preferences. This, in turn, can lead to improvements in your products or services.
So, in a nutshell, building a brand community is like having a group of friends who love your brand and help it grow. It's a win-win for both your business and your most devoted customers.
The rise of social media and the influence of new generations with different values have made building brand communities more important. According to Joy Panos Stauber, who works at a company called Stauber Brand Studio, creating a community around a brand has been crucial for a while, but it's become even more crucial in the last 10 to 15 years.
Stauber says that brands have become more like real people and can change to meet their customers' needs. Sometimes, they even work together with their customers to make things better. This is important because when you build a community, you're making connections with real people.
Jacob Andra, who co-founded SOMA, an online marketplace, thinks that making human connections is essential for a successful business. He says we're social beings, and even though e-commerce has connected us to the whole world for buying things, it hasn't fulfilled our need for social connections. The brands that really stand out are the ones that understand this and create communities where people can connect with each other.
A strong community, whether you're an individual or an online store, brings lots of advantages. It can provide support, spark ideas, and give you stability. When online sellers create a sense of community around their products or services, it can be a real boost in the long run.
For individuals and online businesses, having a community can lead to:
When you build a community, your customers become your biggest fans. They'll stick with you and buy from you more often.
Creating online spaces for your customers, like Facebook groups, lets them talk and share. You'll learn what they want and how you can make your products or services even better.
A strong brand community gets people talking. They'll tell others, whether on social media or to their friends, about your brand because they feel a sense of belonging.
Once you have your brand community, you have a built-in audience to share new products with. Your loyal customers become your best promoters.
Many brands aren't just about selling stuff; they have a bigger mission. Some support family businesses, others donate to causes. Your community will often share your commitment to that mission.
One of the best things about a brand community is that it lets you connect with your customers on a deeper level. It's not just about what you sell; it's about shared interests. This builds trust.
In the end, having a strong customer base, which a brand community can help you create, is a surefire way to grow your business in the right direction. Let's look at why building a fantastic brand community is such a great idea for your online store:
When you have a community, your customers become your most loyal supporters. They'll stick around longer and spend more.
Creating online spaces for your customers to chat, like Facebook groups, leads to natural discussions and community engagement. This can give you insights into what your customers want and how to improve.
A strong brand community generates buzz about your online store. People naturally talk about it on social media and with friends because they feel a sense of belonging.
Once you've built your brand community, you have a ready-made audience to share new products with. Your loyal customers become your best advocates.
Many brands have a bigger purpose beyond just selling things. Some support family businesses, while others give back to meaningful causes. Your community often shares your commitment to these missions.
One of the best things about having a brand community is the opportunity to connect with your customers on a deeper level. It's not just about your products; it's about shared interests. This builds trust and loyalty.
So, creating a strong brand community isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must-do for any online business looking to thrive. Many times, companies keep their efforts to build a community limited to the marketing department. This is a mistake. To get the most out of a brand community, it should be seen as a big-picture strategy that supports the overall goals of the entire business.
"Building a brand community takes time, but it's worth it because it creates a real and lasting bond between your brand and your customers," says Corri Smith, who owns a marketing company called Black Wednesday. "The top-notch brands meet their customers' needs and become like friends and trusted helpers." Building a community of people isn't something that happens quickly, agrees Tyler Hillstead, president of Copper Pearl, a baby bib company. "If you try to hurry, people can tell. Taking your time and growing slowly will actually benefit you in the long run."
Use Newsletters to Connect with Your Brand Community
If you've been collecting email addresses, sending newsletters is a great way to strengthen your brand's community. Newsletters are like friendly updates where you can share your brand's story, offer special content, and create stronger bonds with your customers.
When you provide entertaining and helpful content in your monthly newsletter, your audience will eagerly await the next one in their inbox.
If you want your business to have a big influence, it's important to raise your online profile. Instead of always chasing new customers, become a go-to expert in your industry. You can do this by sharing your knowledge through blog posts, creating a YouTube channel for your brand, and making informative social media posts.
Being an authority doesn't depend on having lots of followers; it's about earning people's trust. When you offer valuable information that helps them solve problems or learn something new, you'll gain their trust. Your community will be filled with loyal followers who respect your opinions, advice, and content.
Another effective way to grow your brand's community is through in-person networking. Building real-life connections is valuable, and you can do this by attending conferences, workshops, and meetups. Networking has several benefits, including boosting your reputation, increasing confidence, and forming genuine friendships.
The Meetup app is a great tool for organising meetups with other professionals in your area. You can find local meetups related to your industry or create your own and invite your target audience. Meeting someone in person helps you feel like you know them better. By allowing others to get to know the real you, you can build a trustworthy personal brand and create a community of like-minded people you can comfortably connect with in the future.
I think the best way to create a community is by inviting others to share what they think and their experiences. People want brands to assist with their issues, but they also want a space where they can have open conversations. I suggest posting things that encourage your audience to join the conversation. For example, you can ask an interesting question, share a surprising fact, or invite users to share their own experiences with each other.
Make a special group for brand ambassadors and invite your loyal customers to join. These brand ambassadors are really excited about your product and can help tell others about it. They can spread the word on social media, at events, and by talking to their friends. They can also help create a community by starting an online forum or Facebook group where people can chat, ask questions, give feedback, and share tips.
To build an engaging community around your product, it's important to do a few things. Create a website or blog and offer special stuff that only members can see. This will give people a reason to join and be active. You can also organise events and meetups where members can get together in person and interact.
Customers really like getting rewards when they shop, so it's a good idea to have a loyalty program. This program turns shopping into a bit of a game, where customers buy more to earn rewards or level up. Loyalty programs also make customers feel like they're important and part of a special group.
In most businesses, there are some customers who bring in a big chunk of the sales. We call them "super customers." Since they're so important to your business, it's a good idea to treat them extra well. You can do this by giving them exclusive deals, letting them see new products before anyone else, and inviting them to special events. This makes them feel really appreciated and valued.
Here's a tip for building a community, both online and offline, around your product, service, or brand: Get content from real customers. Making brand-new content all the time can be really expensive, especially when you need to post a lot. Paying for professional photos for every social media post is just not doable for most businesses using these marketing channels.
Instead, find someone in your organisation who's good at design and storytelling, and have them gather content from your real customers. Many people share great stuff about brands on social media. Sharing their content is usually a good thing to do. It not only makes the person who created the content feel appreciated, but it also shows other customers that your brand really connects with them.
Building a brand community can be really beneficial, but it's not for every company. It needs everyone in the organisation to be on board and ready to work together, even across different parts of the company. It means being open to making changes in things like company values and how the organisation is set up. It also means being okay with not always being in control and being ready to handle conflicts that might come up.
Creating a community can be a powerful strategy if you have the right attitude and skills. A strong brand community makes customers more loyal, saves money on marketing, shows what your brand is all about, and brings in lots of new ideas for growing the business. With commitment, engagement, and support, companies can build brand communities that give big benefits. When you do it right, the rewards are clear and can't be denied.