Using online and in-person methods can help you grow a loyal brand following.
- Cultivating a fan community around your brand and product selection can create enormous opportunities for marketing and experimentation.
- Communities give brands unfiltered access to some of their most dedicated consumers, providing valuable market insights and critical feedback.
- Fan communities can be built through different strategies that typically combine online fan engagement with products designed with those hardcore advocates in mind.
Consumers are able to choose what they want to engage with more than ever. They can totally ignore brands on their social media feeds and block ads that they don't want to see, which is why creating a community around your brand is essential to build your audience, get more leads and grow your business.
According to a survey by OnBrand, 70% of marketers say that building an audience is more important than direct sales. Building a community and a following will drastically improve your ability to convert followers into customers over time, because selling to your entourage of loyal fans is way easier than selling to a stranger who just happens to see your ad on the web.
So how do you build a community that consumers will actually want to be a part of? Check out these tips on how to create a community around your brand.
1. Create a Facebook group.
Creating a Facebook group for your brand is a great way to build a strong relationship with your audience, increase engagement and market your product.
You can start discussions in the group to see exactly what your audience is looking for and what issues they're trying to solve, while offering valuable advice to them. Your members will feel like they're part of an exclusive group where they can find a wealth of information.
If you bring together a bunch of members with similar goals and interests, engagement will be super high. You'll have a ton of people participating in conversations and sharing opinions and tips with one another, which creates a group that your members will want to check in with every single day.
2. Send newsletters.
Hopefully you've been building your email list, because sending newsletters is a very effective way to build relationships and create a community around your brand. Sending newsletters to your subscribers is a great way to make them feel like they're getting exclusive content, and people love to feel special.
If you provide your audience with entertaining and useful content in a monthly newsletter, they'll be counting down the days until the next one arrives in their inbox.
3. Build authority online.
If you want your business to be super influential, then you need to build authority online. Instead of you searching for new customers or clients, they'll come flocking to you if you're an authority in your industry. Build authority for your business by sharing your knowledge through blog posts or a YouTube channel.
Being an authority in your industry is not just about the number of followers you have; it's about trust. If you provide valuable information to people that helps them solve an issue or teaches them how to do something, they'll trust you completely, and your community will be full of loyal followers who will hang on your every word.
4. Network face-to-face.
Another effective way to build a community for your brand is face-to-face networking. Make connections with people in real life by attending conferences, workshops and meetups. There are many benefits to networking, including raising your profile, building your confidence and forming real-life friendships.
The Meetup app is a great way to organize meetups in your city with other professionals. You can find a local meetup related to your industry, or you can create your own meetup and invite your target audience to it.
When we meet someone face-to-face, we feel like we know them better. If you give others the opportunity to get to know the real you, you can build a trustworthy personal brand and form a community of like-minded people you can comfortably reach out to in the future.
Adding these tactics to your arsenal will allow you to create a community around your brand. Remember to not act too spammy in any of these avenues; you want to come across as a reliable source to your audience and not annoy them. Now get out there and start building your community.
What are the benefits of building a strong brand community?
The benefits of a strong brand community are endless. Building a brand community creates an organic ecosystem that you can leverage in several different ways.
If you create enough demand within your community, anytime you drop a new product or service, you will have a built-in customer base that is eager to buy. Market research becomes much simpler, because you have an organic way to connect with your fans and find out what they're looking for. Fostering a strong community builds a sense of trust with your audience that increases the potential for long-term customer retention – not to mention it's a smart way to set yourself from the competition and brand yourself as a company that cares about building relationships and contributing to the community.
Examples of successful brand community strategies
LEGO is a surprising example of a company that has built a successful brand community. By creating sites like LEGO Ideas and LUGNET, LEGO has cultivated a system of connecting to its customers that builds engagement and collects valuable consumer feedback.
LEGO Ideas is a site where enthusiasts can vote on their favorite potential LEGO designs. The projects with the most votes end up going to market. It's a clever way to validate ideas and make customers feel more connected to the development process.
LUGNET is an online message board where hardcore LEGO fans can chat and exchange ideas. Although it's an unofficial fan-generated site, LEGO has been vocal about collecting insights from fan engagement and using it to influence new products. This is a smart, cost-effective way to acknowledge fans of the brand and show that their feedback is valued.
Another example of a brand that has built a successful community is Starbucks and its My Starbucks Idea program. The program is like a digital suggestion box for the company, where customers submit feedback on how it could improve. To date, the program has led to the development of over 300 new company strategies, all based on real consumer feedback. It's a subtle gesture that shows that the company values its customers' decisions and is dedicated to providing the best service possible.