There are many strategies that exist to create, shape, or support a brand. You can invest in positive PR opportunities, use a marketing campaign to reach a new target demographic, or you can even undergo a total rebrand. But one of the best things you can do for improving your brand is: Creating your own brand community.
What is a brand community?
A brand community is a group of customers brought together by a shared interest in your brand or what your brand stands for. They are a group that is united in some way under the banner of your brand. These people follow all of your content on social media, share your products/services and content with others, and enjoy seeing everything your brand does. More simply put, a brand community is a place where people who have an emotional bond with your brand can connect with your brand and with each other.
Because of these connections, a brand community showcases brand loyalty at its best. People in your brand community are emotionally invested and they will buy from your company, digest your content and tell all about your brand to their friends and family.
Why is community building important for your brand?
First of all, it is important to understand that your brand community already exists on social media. It is only your job to find this community, connect with it directly, and build a strategy for individuals within that community so they can interact with each other.
Creating a brand community takes time, but the pay-off can be more than worth it. Brands that do it correctly, succeed in taking advantage of several benefits resulting from their brand communities:
Authentic and user-generated content: One of the biggest benefits of having brand communities is that they are a free source of authentic, user-generated content around your products or services. As 97% of online buyers reads reviews before making a purchase, having online communities who can provide you with these product reviews, comments, and Q&A’s can thus be seen as incredibly valuable to your brand.
Besides that brand communities can provide you with social proof to attract new customers, they also can be valuable for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing strategies. New articles and new threads will be indexed by Google, serving as flagships for users who might be experiencing the same problems, asking the same questions, or are interested in the same ideas. This will also bolster your domain authority, so you rank higher in general, and can serve as a point of discussion in your email and social media campaigns.
Increased brand exposure and credibility: Brand communities also contribute to your marketing efforts by sharing and promoting your brand to their own social networks. This form of collaborative marketing increases brand exposure, as well as brand credibility as customers are more likely to trust your brand when they can see social proof. In addition, having an actively involved community is a sign of success that on its turn will be reflected to potential customers.
Increased brand loyalty: As a result of the authentic and user-generated content and the increased credibility provided by the brand communities, customers will feel more invested in your brand and therefore brand loyalty will rise. Subsequently, this will be translated into increased revenues as two-thirds of consumers spend more on brands that they are loyal to.
Better customer retention: Because of the increased customer loyalty towards a brand resulting from the brand communities, there will be a higher customer retention rate. The retention rate will also rise due to the fact that the communities can serve as an excellent channel for post-purchase communications. This means that because of the actively involved community, customers can continue to interact with eachother and with the brand long after they’ve made their purchase. This influences customer retention positively and even results into more business return.
Great pre-release channel: Not only can a brand community be used as a post-purchase channel, but also as a pre-release channel. This means that you can share or present new products and services with your community before the official public launch. That way, you can get feedback from your brand’s key customers and use it to iron out any kinks before launch day.
A valuable source of data, insights, and feedback: Brand communities and their customer-driven forums are also a tremendous source of new information. Depending on the types of conversations you foster with your community, this could be a source of feedback (helping you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your products/services), or a source of new ideas. Either way, you'll be able to make better and more profitable products for your future users.
Reduced customer support costs: Almost half of businesses with online communities report annual cost savings of between 10% and 25%. This is because online brand communities and forums practically can function like a customer service department. Your customers can ask questions, indicate problems and get answers from other members of the community. As a result, there will be less work for the customer support teams.
In today’s business era, effective marketing means a two-way conversation and it is getting more and more personal. The consumers play a crucial role in it and therefore bonding with these consumers and building brand communities have a huge positive impact on the enforcement of your brand. Getting to know your most loyal customers and building relationships with them is a must for guaranteed success of your brand. Having a successful brand community is not only beneficial for your audience, but also for you as a brand.