Go back a few years and you may remember that the traditional way for brands to promote themselves was via the relatively one-sided process of advertising. Today, however, customers look for a more human connection and one of the best ways to create this is by building a community around your brand.
In a thriving community of followers, your customers are more likely to feel an emotional connection with you. This then develops brand loyalty, meaning that those customers will love your marketing content, tell their friends and family about you, and buy your products again and again.
Building a community of followers is a nice way to do business, but it’s also a great marketing technique which can deliver lots of advantages. So, read on to discover some of the benefits and learn how to get started on building your own brand community.
The benefits of building a community around your brand
- Making authentic connections
Human beings are social animals, but as life has become increasingly digital, our connection with each other has reduced. Sharing your business values and ethics can help customers identify with you and develop an authentic connection with someone else like them.
- Natural growth in SEO
A community of people who interact with each other and create online content around your brand (eg. social media posts, likes and shares) will help your SEO (search engine optimisation). As activity increases, search engines will see your content as relevant and push it towards the top of their search results.
- Generating customer loyalty
When customers begin to connect with your brand, they will naturally become brand ambassadors, sharing information about you with their friends, family and on social media. This will lead to increased trust and recommendations, helping to grow the quality of your online followers.
- Enhancing brand visibility
The bigger your community, the more visible your company will become. When people talk about your products or services in a positive way, others will be drawn towards your brand, leading to an increase in connections.
- Giving your brand personality
Demonstrating your values, ethics, and way of working to an online community will help to give your brand personality. It also means communicating in a more authentic way, helping to build a loyal following of like-minded people.
- Launching new products or services with ease
A loyal community of followers will help you to understand more about the products and services they want to see so you can tailor new developments accordingly. Then, when it comes to launch, your community will be more receptive – especially if you take care of them with gifts or discounts!
- Improving your web traffic
Creating new blog and social media posts for your community will mean they have a reason to visit your website. This will lead to an organic increase in web traffic, which makes search engines more likely to position you towards the top of search results, giving more people the opportunity to see your website.
- Extracting quality data
A thriving brand community means lots of opportunities for you to learn more about your customers. By knowing the search trends and keywords they use, the city or country they’re located, and their interests, you can adapt your products and services to their needs. You can also survey your community to get to know them better, which will give them a voice and increase their loyalty.
- Connecting with other brands
The more excitement there is about your brand, the more other people will want to become a part of your community. This extra energy can lead to more people seeing your business and the potential for guest blog posts or influencers coming on board to promote your products and services.
- Being seen as a leader
As you develop a strong brand presence within your community, you’ll start to be seen as an expert within your industry. When that happens, people are more likely to associate your business with quality or trust, which can then help grow your customer numbers.
How to build a brand community
With so many clear benefits to building a community, the obvious question is where to start. The first step is to have a good product or service.
With that in place, we’ve listed five practical things you can do to build your own brand community:
- Develop a social cause
Many of us now look to buy from brands with similar values (eg. environmental or community based) so sharing a social cause which you’re passionate about is a great way to bring people together in your community. However, it’s important to be authentic as people will see straight through anything which is simply a sales tactic. A great example of a social cause is Patagonia clothing’s 1% for the Planet. Whilst Patagonia may be more expensive than the competition, their product quality and company ethics have led to a loyal community of customers.
- Share useful information
By giving your community free value via educational blog posts or email content with perks and promotions, you’ll develop a loyal community who love what you do. The SEO company Ahrefs have a blog packed full of helpful information, which answers basic questions and also gives more detailed support. This creates a sense of trust in the reader, making it much easier to sell their products and services.
- Put the customer in the spotlight
Consumers are more likely to trust other customers over your brand, so user generated content (created by individuals outside of the business) is a great way to share more about your products and services. AirBnB does this with the images on their social media accounts, helping to create a more authentic online culture. Other ways to put the customer in the spotlight is via case studies which showcase the work you’ve done, or by asking customers to send pictures using your products which you then share on social media.
- Involve your team
It’s important to get everyone in the company on board with your brand values so they can create a great experience for your customers. This means creating a clear vision when developing your brand values and ensuring that the systems are in place to enable them to be delivered. Brands like Starbucks do this really well, creating a culture and atmosphere which is similar wherever you visit.
- Allow time
It takes time to build an authentic and long-lasting connection with the people in your community but continue providing value and it will grow one person at a time. Apple, for example, started life in 1976 from humble beginnings in a garage. However, they understood their customers and consistently delivered strong marketing messages which spoke directly to them, building a huge community of loyal followers over the years.
Many businesses see the value of being online but is it to have a mere presence or actively creating a community for their customers?
By listening to what your community tells you, and acting on the things which affect them most, you can develop a loyal army who will actively market products and services on your behalf. Thinking back to Apple, iPhone and Mac users love their products and will happily share the benefits with others looking to make a purchase. It’s pure marketing gold!
Above all, brand communities are a fun space for your customers to chat with other like-minded people.
Our next blog post will share some of the things we’ve been doing at The Business Village to build our community and show how it’s affected our results.