How to Build a Community Around Your Brand
By: Alyson Shane, President
Brand communities are the easiest way to increase trust and familiarity with your brand, increase sales and conversions, and have better conversations with your customers.
Customers are looking for deeper and more meaningful interactions with the businesses they support. This is especially true in light of the last few years when topics like diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and voting with your dollar have become part of the mainstream conversation.
These days, consumers are looking for brands that share their values.
To help you better understand what brand community is, why it’s so important for your business, and how to build a successful one, I’ve put together this guide to help you get started.
What is a brand community?
Let’s clear the air: brand awareness is not the same as a brand community.
A brand community is when people are emotionally invested in buying your products or services, engaging with your content, and actively telling their friends and family about your business.
These people follow everything you do on social media, share your content with their followers, promote your products and services without being asked to, and are “ride or die” fans of your business and what you do.
Unlike brand awareness, which is simply when someone knows about your brand, your brand community is made up of people who have an emotional connection to your brand.
What’s the benefit of building a brand community?
Put simply, a brand community is a powerful tool for growing your business.
According to SmallBizGenius, 56% of customers will stay loyal to a brand they feel “gets them”, which means building a community around your brand can help existing customers feel aligned with your business.
Even better: HubSpot found that 81% of consumers trust the advice of family and friends over businesses, which means if someone is a member of your brand community you’re in a better position to get referral and word-of-mouth business through your existing customers.
Having an active brand community also means that you have a group you can regularly tap into to get feedback on new products or services, share blog content, test new features (if you’re a SaaS business), and use to collect positive testimonials and feedback.
However — a brand community isn’t a one-way street. The key to a successful brand community is to consistently find ways to engage, entertain, and reward your community members.
Let’s talk about how to do that:
How to build a community around your brand
1. Define your brand’s mission, values, and personality
Before you build a community around your brand, you need to know what your brand is. This goes beyond the products and services you sell, and should include:
- What’s your company’s vision?
- Who are your customers, and how do you solve their problems?
- What’s your brand voice, and how does it change in different contexts?
- What do you want your brand to be known for?
If you’re not sure how to define these areas (or if you haven’t updated them in a long time) a digital marketing consultation can help clarify your vision.
2. Don’t try to be everything to everyone
”'By being everything to everyone you're nothing to anyone” — there are tons of variations of this quote, but they all make the same point: leaning into causes or messaging that’s outside of the scope of your brand dilutes our message and makes it harder for people to connect with you.
3. Decide where your content hub will be
Members of your community will need a place to come together to engage with your brand, share information and share their experiences.
Consider your audience’s needs, demographics, preferences, and how they want to interact with your brand and other members. If you’re not sure which is best for your brand community, take a look at a few of these options:
A community forum
Forums are a great way for large communities to talk about shared interests (which may or may not be directly relevant to your brand). A great example of a successful community is Spotify’s community.
Image via Spotify Community
You can see that their home page gives people the option to ask for help and engage with the brand, chat with other users, or engage with the community through polls and posts.
Since Spotify is a huge music streaming company with a global audience, a forum works great as a community hub because the brand can cultivate conversations around playlists, emerging artists, and more, all with their music streaming platform positioned at the center.
There are two ways to create a brand community on social media: by engaging through your profile, or by creating a group.
You can also create communities around a branded hashtag, which is exactly what it sounds like! Branded hashtags are hashtags that are unique, either to your brand or to a specific campaign on social media.
One example is Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign which was created in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Every time someone posted a photo of themselves wearing Mickey Mouse ears with the hashtag #ShareYourEars, Disney donated $5 to the charity.
Image via Instagram
4. Lean into user-generated content (UGC)
Another example of how to build a brand community on social media is to create a generic branded hashtag like A Color Story has done.
They feature photos posted using the branded hashtag #AColorStory on their feed, which builds brand loyalty and helps generate user-generated content (UGC) on their feed as well, which keeps it personal and informal.
Image via Instagram
5. Create high-quality content
Use customer research to create content that your audience will love. Some examples of content you can create include:
- Writing helpful tutorials
- Publishing interesting articles
- Co-creating content with influencers
- Answering customer questions in Q&As (live or pre-recorded)
Encourage your community members to get involved by sharing their opinions and thoughts in the comments section, or by using fun engagement tools like Instagram Story Stickers like polls, “Add Yours” and “Question”.
Creating a space where your community members can find helpful, interesting, and relevant content that creates an emotional connection to your brand is the key to getting them to come back over and over!
6. Lead from the top down
One of the easiest ways to create a community around your brand is for the people at the top (President, CEO, and other leadership) to be actively involved with promoting the brand and its values.
This is especially true for small-to-medium-sized brands where being personable and relatable can play a huge role in differentiating you from the competition. Some ways that leadership can help build a community include:
- Showing up regularly in Stories, Reels, and behind-the-scenes content
- Writing op-eds, post captions, and email newsletters from their own perspectives
- Blogging or publishing content on their own social media channels that aligns with the brand
- Resharing company updates on their own social media profiles
- Volunteering and doing philanthropic work that’s reflective of the brand’s values
Start creating your own brand community today
Engaging with your customers and potential customers makes them feel important to the brand itself. This increases loyalty and trust and fosters positive feelings about your business that can be hard to achieve without a strong community.
Ready to start building a community around your brand? Drop us a line and let’s chat!
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