Why you should create an online brand community (and how to start one)
Online communities generate buzz and engagement for brands. But do these communities make sense for smaller businesses? The short answer is yes. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from setting up an online brand community.
Why you need a brand community
A brand community can help businesses in a number of ways, from standing out online to creating resources and support for customers to boosting branding efforts.
1. Better brand awareness and loyalty
When customers are part of a brand community, they are no longer distinct and separate entities. You can help your customers build an online identity related to your brand. This can lead to greater brand loyalty and awareness, as community members will share your content. Your community can also help your brand grow through word of mouth and online shares.
2. Improved customer support and lower costs
When you have space for your community to share information, you can reduce customer support costs because members will help each other solve problems and answer questions. You can then devote your time and energy to managing issues that need intervention. Your customer support staff will also be able to offer better service since your community will resolve many of their own concerns. This can help lower customer service costs significantly.
3. Increased engagement on social media
A community that's focused around your product and values will share information about them. You can use your community to make your social media posts go viral. Post videos, images and contests that are appealing. Community members can be your best brand advocates and help spread your content.
4. Reduced marketing expenses
When you have an online brand community, you can reduce your dependency on expensive marketing activities. Nearly half (49 percent) of businesses with online brand communities have cost savings between 10 and 25 percent per year.
This is because you can save money on customer acquisition by having an online community. You can get repeat purchases and a higher frequency of sales by focusing on your current customer base. Building your community should be a long-term strategy that relieves your marketing expenses.
5. More user-generated content
Online content is saturated with forced marketing messages that are impersonal. However, people are likely to pay attention to content created by their peers since it’s more authentic.
As a business, you can leverage user-generated content from your community. You can feature their content on your social media pages, website and advertisements. This makes your content look genuine and shows that you’re listening to your audience.
6. Better idea generation
Businesses like Lego cocreate innovative products by using feedback from their user base. Customers who need and use your product are often the best source of ideas. Creating an online brand community enables you to generate ideas from your audience.
7. More opportunities for testing
You can save on focus groups and other testing methods by asking your brand community to test your new products. Your community will have experienced users who can give you actionable feedback. Furthermore, you can test your products with people who will actually use them and create a great product as a result.
How to build a brand community
As you can see, there are many reasons to build a brand community. Creating your own online community is easy, thanks to free tools available today. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to start a community around your brand.
1. Start a membership site
You can create a membership website that is entirely dedicated to your brand community. By adding content that only members can view, you can convince users to sign up.
A membership site creates an exclusive space that focuses on relevant topics. This encourages discussion and deepens your understanding of your customers’ pain points. You can start a WordPress membership site by using a membership site plugin.
2. Build a social media following
This is an obvious and effective way to start building your online brand community. Set up a business page on relevant platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Create content on other platforms like Medium to make people aware of your business. You’ll be able to engage with people and build a following by making your posts interactive.
A helpful tip is to create a fun persona on social media and to use casual conversation. Be sure to respond to your audience's comments to make them feel like there’s a real person behind the brand.
3. Use email marketing and newsletters
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools for driving conversions. Use your email list, and send engaging content on a regular basis to get customers more invested in your brand. You can direct them to sign up for your membership site, where they will receive exclusive content as members.
4. Hold giveaway contests
Giveaway contests work well because they generate excitement. They create strong emotions that can help drive engagement. This can increase traffic to your site and enlist people into your brand community.
With so much marketing communication crowding online spaces, people are not as receptive as before. They are looking for deeper and more authentic interactions online.
By creating an online brand community, you’ll create a platform for your audience that starts a meaningful relationship with your business. Build an online community today to boost your business's growth.