A brand community is defined as a community formed on the basis of an attachment to a product or brand. That is, it is a community where people find commonalities in the products or brands they consume. Oftentimes, businesses look at brand communities as a market strategy, when they should be viewed as a business strategy. The best brand communities are ones that serve the people in it, helping the brand as a whole to thrive.
In this post, we are going to share a few ways that your business can create a successful brand community rooted in personal connection.
Brand communities are unique in that they draw members from all over the world, meaning there are no geographical boundaries. However, there are other boundaries to define such as who is a part of your group, including language and rituals. It’s all about setting the expectations for group members, both of how they should interact with the community, and of how the community will act towards them. By doing this, you give your members a sense of emotional safety in that the community is being successfully managed.
Associated with this is a sense of belonging. You want to make sure that your members feel like a welcomed part of the community. Send them a welcome email, or even a goodie bag full of swag to show your appreciation. You want to make sure that your members are willing to make a personal investment for the success of the community. This can be submitting content or attending an event. Make sure your members to feel welcomed so then they are willing to be more engaged.
We cannot stress enough how important transparency is to the success of a brand community. If you want to build a brand community, make sure you are communicating with them honestly and openly. These people are going to be the greatest advocates for the success of your brand or products. The more transparent you are with your brand community, the more likely you are to build trust. This will lead to loyalty from the community.
An example of this is the brand community surrounding the Erin Condren LifePlanners. Each year, they release the new version of the planner for the upcoming year. They allow prominent members of the community to “unbox” the planner for their viewers. The public relations team at the company sends them the planners to show on camera and gives them a date in which they are able to do so. This is a great example of transparent communication that is spread from a company to its brand community.
Fulfillment of needs
One of the best ways to engage your brand community is to ask them for feedback on your product. While this may lead to negative feedback, your product development team can take these considerations into account in order to improve the product. Some of the best small business owners will take their customers’ feedback into account in order to improve the product based on what the customers need. This can be in the design of the product or the quality of the product. The main takeaway is that you are listening to what your customers need and trying to fulfill those needs.
As a business, this feedback can also prompt a series of customer success content. For example, if your customers are having a hard time with a certain feature of your product, you can create an article or blog post going in depth on how to solve that problem. Asking for your customers’ feedback on a product is a great way to start a conversation about topics that matter most to them.
A shared emotional connection
Members of a brand community aren’t just your customers, but people. And relationships with these people are built on shared emotional connections. Communities like this are built to help foster these connections. Because the B2B and B2C lines are becoming increasingly blurred, it is more important than ever to create more personalized and customer-centric content for your brand community. This will help your brand community sift through the online noise to find the content that really matters most to them.
Building emotional connections requires regular communication, quality interactions, and shared experiences. Your brand community shouldn’t be siloed to one channel or platform – community happens wherever your customers come into contact with your brand, so these principles should extend to every touchpoint with your audience. Brand communities should not be treated like a marketing campaign, but rather a long-term strategy that can deliver customer engagement, brand advocacy, and social proof.
Utilize online networks, but don’t rely on them
While online networks are used as the main point of contact for a lot of brand communities, they should be merely used as a tool in which that supplements a strategy. Online social networks can serve valuable community functions. They help people find rich solutions to ambiguous problems and serendipitous connections to people and ideas. But, they do have their limitations. Online networks can actually hinder the way communities form bonds.
In order to solve this problem, take the conversation offline. Host meetups for your brand community in the area so they can talk with each other and the brand in person. These events can be a place where bloggers, influencers, and experts in the industry to come together in a space to show loyalty and support for the brand. Doing this allows you to connect with the people who make up the community in ways that reaffirm the essence of the brand.
Brand communities can be a smart business strategy to connect with your customers. You can pick their brains about the brand and encourage them to share their thoughts to their own audience. By creating a brand community rooted in personal connection, you build a stronger brand loyalty build on trust, details, and emotions. And this is what a brand community needs to flourish and be successful.