Back in the day, television advertisements and billboards were the primary medium to get more people to notice your brand. Cut to 2023, and running a successful brand is not as simple. People have become more savvy and discerning. They are more keen to learn about your brand than what you can tell them in a 10-second commercial.
But there’s one thing that has never changed — word-of-mouth marketing.
There’s no denying that word-of-mouth marketing influences our buying decisions even today. It’s perhaps one of the many reasons why both big, small, and new-age brands rely on brand communities to carve a niche of their own.
According to a survey, 68% of brands have stated that brand communities have been instrumental in generating new leads for them.
But why are brand communities so effective?
Well, it’s simple really. In today’s world, word-of-mouth marketing is everything. Recommendations from our friends and family are more trustworthy and genuine than any slick marketing campaign. Brand communities essentially provide a platform for people to do the same — come together, share ideas/feedback, and talk your brand up to other potential shoppers.
By tapping into the power of brand communities, your business can build a loyal customer base, generate brand advocates, and gain valuable insights and feedback from your customers.
9 Benefits of building a brand community
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
This quote from Helen Keller captures the true essence of brand communities.
Brand communities give you a real shot at building brand loyalty and integrity, and here are the 9 benefits that will convince you of it.
#1. Cultivate devoted brand enthusiasts
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” - Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
When you build a fun space for like-minded individuals who might be interested in what your brand is or represents, they become your brand advocates.
Nike knows it best. The brand has a loyalty scheme that goes by the Nike+ Membership program. With the program, Nike was able to build a community of fitness enthusiasts who are now the backbone of its DTC strategy.
#2. Keep customers coming back for more
Once customers feel a sense of belonging to your brand community, they're more likely to stick around. Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold, and retaining them should be a top priority for any brand.
A great example of customer retention through a brand community is the Sephora Beauty Insider program.
Members receive exclusive perks, product previews, and personalized recommendations, all of which encourage them to remain loyal to the brand.
#3. Encourage meaningful interactions with your brand
People are smart. So your consumers are most likely to catch on when your interactions are meaningless and in your self-interest. One way to harbor real connections with your customers is through honest interactions and feedback. This way, your customers feel they are valued and will likely stay back and engage with your brand.
For example, Red Bull's events and content marketing strategies capture the genuine emotion behind the brand.
Red Bull has built a loyal following of people who seek thrill, adventure, and an active lifestyle. The brand’s energetic personality comes through in everything they do, right down to its packaging designs.
#4. Expand your brand's reach and recognition
Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool, and with brand communities, you get to use it to your benefit. When customers feel connected to your brand, they're more likely to share their positive experiences with others, helping to increase brand awareness organically.
Tesla is a great example of this. The brand not only has a great product, but a passionate community of fans who often share their love for the brand on social media, increasing brand awareness and creating buzz around the company.
#5. Uncover valuable customer feedback
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” - Bill Gates.
There is no better way to understand exactly what your customers want, need, and expect from your brand than through customer feedback.
One brand that perfectly values its customer feedback and implements them is LEGO. LEGO Ideas is a community where customers can submit their ideas for new LEGO sets. You can provide valuable feedback and even share ideas for the company.
#6. Inspire and showcase user-created content
By encouraging user-generated content within your brand community, you can create a library of authentic content that showcases your brand's personality and resonates with your target audience.
For example, Airbnb's Instagram feed is full of UGC, showcasing real people and their unique travel experiences.
#7. Spark fresh ideas and innovation
Your brand community can become a source of inspiration and ideas for new products and services. By tapping into the creativity of your community, you can create products that meet the specific needs and wants of your target audience.
For example, the ‘My Starbucks Idea’ site encourages customers to submit ideas for new drinks, food, and store designs, driving innovation and improving customer satisfaction.
#8. Establish yourself as a leader in your industry
By establishing a brand community, you're positioning your brand as a thought leader in your industry. This can help you build authority and credibility with your target audience, making it easier to strengthen your brand identity and attract customers.
For example, the Moz Q&A Forum is a community where marketers can ask questions and get answers from industry experts, establishing Moz as a thought leader in SEO.
#9. Drive sales and revenue growth
Ultimately, the goal of any brand community is to increase sales. By building a community of loyal brand advocates who trust your products and services, you can increase sales and grow your business.
For example, the Harley Owners Group is a community of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts who not only buy the brand's products but also promote them to others, increasing sales and brand awareness.
The pull of organic communities for young people: a closer look
In today's fast-paced, digital world, building a successful brand is no easy feat. Consumers are inundated with choices, and standing out from the crowd can be a challenge.
Gen Z consumers, in particular, are becoming disillusioned with paid influencer marketing and are shifting towards grassroots communities of individuals with similar interests. They prefer to share content, opinions, and reviews about brands and products that they have actually tried and tested.
Over the years, the credibility of influencers has taken a hit due to revelations of buying fake followers and promoting products they don't genuinely use or believe in. Consequently, consumers are now seeking out more genuine interactions with real people who use and endorse products organically.
10 tips and tactics for building a successful brand community
Developing a community around your business is not a quick process. It requires a well-crafted plan and patience to achieve.
Here are some tips on how to build a stronger brand community that will help your business thrive.
1. Bring the brand to life
To create a community, you need to have a strong and distinctive brand personality that people can connect with. Your brand's personality should reflect your values, mission, and unique selling proposition. Think about what makes your brand stand out and how you can communicate that to your audience.
For example, Apple's brand personality is sleek, innovative, and cutting-edge, which is reflected in everything from its product design to its marketing campaigns.
2. Develop a forum for open dialogue and connection
Your community needs a place to connect and engage with each other. This could be a forum, a social media group, or a third-party community platform like Reddit or Discord. Whatever platform you choose, make sure it's easy to use and accessible to everyone.
Consider creating a space where customers can ask questions, share feedback, and connect with each other.
3. Unite behind a shared mission or belief
People love to be part of something bigger than themselves. By rallying around a cause, you can create a sense of purpose and shared values within your community.
For example, the TOMS One-for-One campaign donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, creating a sense of purpose and attracting customers who want to make a difference.
4. Offer solutions without a sales pitch
Your community should not be all about selling your products or services. Instead, focus on providing value and solving problems for your customers. This could be anything from offering helpful tips and resources to hosting educational webinars or workshops.
5. Foster customer engagement and advocacy
Encouraging interaction and sharing is key to building a strong community. Consider hosting contests or challenges that encourage customers to create content or share their experiences with your brand. This could be anything from a photo contest to a social media marketing hashtag campaign.
6. Embody authenticity and sincerity
Authenticity is critical when it comes to building a strong brand community. People can tell when a brand is trying too hard to be something they're not. Instead, be honest and transparent about who you are, what you stand for, and what you can offer your customers.
7. Offer informative and useful resources
Your community should be a place where people can learn and grow. Consider providing educational resources like blog posts, tutorials, or e-books that help your customers solve problems or improve their lives in some way.
For instance, Moz's community provides educational resources, including webinars, tutorials, and articles, to help businesses
8. Find the right platform for engagement
Not all communities are created equal, and different platforms may work better for different audiences. Consider the demographics of your customers and what platforms they're most likely to use. For example, if you have a younger audience, TikTok or Instagram might be the best platform for engagement.
9. Offer rewards for participation
Finally, consider incentivizing participation in your community. This could be anything from offering exclusive discounts or promotions to top contributors or creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for their engagement.
10. Get a community manager
Building a community takes time and effort, and it's essential to have someone in charge of managing and nurturing it. Consider appointing a dedicated community manager who can oversee the day-to-day operations, moderate discussions, and respond to customer feedback.
Start your brand community building today
Brand communities are not just a feel-good exercise - they offer tangible benefits for businesses as well.
To successfully create a co-creative community, your entire organization must be on board with the approach. This means having highly trained employees who understand the value of community engagement and leveraging brand asset management platforms that can streamline your marketing efforts and ensure that your brand messaging is consistent across all channels.
By focusing on creating a strong brand personality, providing value, and encouraging interaction and sharing, you can create a loyal community that will help your business thrive.