How to Build and Foster a Brand Community on Social Media
Are you searching for ways to strengthen your brand and to have better conversations with your customers to facilitate customer loyalty, marketing efficiency, and brand authenticity? If so, you need to build a brand community.
As with many aspects of digital culture, brand communities spawn a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of a brand. They gather your loyal customers in one space, which is a huge accomplishment for any brand. Additionally, these communities invoke entertaining conversations between like-minded people who share the same interests in your brand.
To help you achieve your goal of facilitating customer loyalty, marketing efficiency, and brand authenticity, I have put together a guide to help you understand the value of brand communities and how to build a successful one for your brand.
What is a Brand Community?
According to Sprout Social, a brand community is a community formed on the basis of attachment to a product or brand. Consumers voluntarily join brand communities because they are invested in a brand beyond what is being sold, and the customers want to become a part of the brand itself. From “Jeep Jamborees” and Harley-Davidson to Apple iPhone groups, these communities can deepen customer loyalty and create relationships between consumers and companies that last for years and years. Members of brand communities develop a sense of belonging, share a common idea, and enjoy being united with like-minded people.
For many years, marketers have been preoccupied with searching for the proper pathway to customer loyalty. But social media platforms have developed new social processes to achieve customer loyalty through the lens of brand communities. Brand communities hold a power that goes beyond any marketing journey. Therefore, incorporating this tactic into your social media strategy is essential to reaching a large segment that facilitates additional brand exposure.
Fostering A Brand Community
Communities can be found anywhere and everywhere, in your town, at schools, political parties, and even among consumer brands that promote specific lifestyles, such as bikers, CrossFiter’s, iPhone users, or Jeep owners. But, the best place to foster brand communities is on social media platforms.
In today’s turbulent world, people are hungry for a sense of connection; and in lean economic times, every company needs new ways to do more with what it already has. Brands that seek to build and grow a loyal community do so most effectively on social media by demonstrating their core values.
Displaying core values on social media allows a brand to foster a brand community and develop and engage around their values. Because a brand community is a place for people who have an emotional connection with your brand to connect with one another as well as your brand, it is essential to provide content to facilitate and encourage emotional connection.
In order to form emotional connections and meaningful relationships within your brand community, brands must speak and reach out to their consumers directly. The brand must consistently represent the brand’s values that are expected of them by its consumers and community because that is simply what is expected of them in exchange for purchases and customer loyalty. A brand community Is not brand awareness; not all people who make a purchase from a brand engage or want to engage with a brand community. Instead, a brand community is the people who purchase from your brand, follow your social media accounts, share your products and content with their friends/family, and enjoy keeping up with what your brand is doing.
Fostering brand community is an extension of brand advocacy that creates a community space for your customers to build relationships and take action. Customers willingly opt into your brand community because they value your products and culture.
Why Build and Foster A Brand Community
Whether you are aware of it or not, brand communities already exist on social media. It’s the brand’s responsibility to locate the community, begin engaging with it, and cultivate a strategy to encourage current members to interact with one another. Think back to our CrossFit example; members of CrossFit gyms are often considered as diligent brand promoters, always trying to recruit their friends and family to join their local CrossFit gym. So much so that CrossFitters are often teased as if they are part of a cult. They enjoy connecting with other CrossFitters to discuss their max back squat or the latest dieting craze. This is precisely how CrossFit has built and maintained its brand loyalty; by fostering their brand community. While the desired functional benefits, emotional benefits, and social benefits may vary by brand and industry, the importance of accentuating these benefits does not. Brands can capitalize on these principals to build brand loyalty based on dedicated consumers through social media platforms.
Fostering brand communities is essential to your company’s success because your brand community is your best focus group. They provide feedback; and brutally honest feedback at that. And while the feedback they provide might hurt a little to hear, the consumers who make up your community are the people who consistently use your products and truly enjoy your brand and its values, so these are the people who you need to listen to most. Listening to and engaging with your brand community allows your company to make customer-driven decisions and easily make business announcements such as sales and rewards programs.
The idea is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between your customers and your brand, so let’s talk about how to do this successfully within a brand community.
Building a Brand Community
There are two ways you can build and manage your community on social media – by engaging through your platform or by creating a social media group. The essential steps to building a thriving brand community are to define your brand – what is your mission, vision, brand voice, personality, goals, and values? What do you want your brand to be known for? This information is vital to building a brand community because the more you understand about your brand, the more you can showcase to your community what your brand is about, which will attract your desired target audience.
Next, you must choose a platform. There are several social media platforms to choose from. Is your brand community best suited for Facebook, a Facebook group, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, or a different platform? What is the best setting for your brand’s audience to talk about their shared interests? Will you utilize stories, hashtags, or newsfeeds? If your community needs to share content with one another, you may opt for a Facebook or LinkedIn group to further engage and interact.
Content is your next challenge. What type of content will you create to engage with your users? Will you provide rewards and affiliate programs to encourage them to interact with your community by providing value to them?
Regularly engage with your brand community to give your audience a reason to stay connected. It is essential to respond to their questions and generate discussions by posting content that creates a buzz to start the conversation.
Creating Your Brand Community
When it comes to strengthening your brand, having better conversations with your customers, and facilitating customer loyalty, marketing efficiency, and brand authenticity, social media is a valuable asset. Social media provides a gateway to engage with your target audience and your potential customers in the way that they desire. It makes them feel a part of something and as if they are valuable to your brand. Social networks serve as valuable community functions and help users find solutions to their problems, and provide functional, emotional, and social benefits to your consumers. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building your brand community today!