Brand communities aren’t entirely new as many have bonded over their love for a service or product. The difference between then and now is that brands have started hosting their own communities online through social media platforms and even websites.
We see brand communities playing a bigger role in the industry. Here are 5 things on what makes a brand community thrive.
1. Focus on actual community building
It’s wrong to think that a community will follow once you build a brand. First off, brand communities are more than just about singing praises about the brand. In fact, the reverse is true. Build a strong community first, and the brand will be strong.
We have to treat a community as it is – a community. While a brand may rank second-place in a community, loyalty will eventually follow when marketers put people first before sales transactions.
2. Share and thrive
The reality is successful brand communities aren’t about the brands. Rather, people join the club because they are interested in the social links associated with the brand and its role in their lives.
Communities are about sharing, connecting and forming relationships. Do expect to join in discussions, offer advice and hear out criticisms.
An example of one such brand community is My Starbucks Idea. To date, Starbucks have implemented over hundreds of suggestions they received from loyal fans and customers online.
3. Be authentic and facilitate conversation
Establish an authentic voice for your brand and facilitate conversation (note: facilitate, not dictate). While you might think a brand has to ‘lead’ the pack, communities are strongest when everyone plays a role. In fact, communities thrive when members support each other’s roles.
For example, Nike Australia needed a way to connect with its women’s base. This led to the birth of a women-only running community, ‘She Runs the Night’ which engaged young runners to be the voice of the brand instead of hires.
A brand can look forward to growing with their customer base with a voice that speaks as part of the crowd.
4. Encourage activity within the community
Promote activities that people can do within the community. Highlight what members can do with one another, furthering community support.
One of the reasons why Nike’s She Runs The Night had been so successful was that members organized weekly run clubs amongst themselves in different locations around Sydney. This allowed women to not only focus on their individual training goals, but to also connect with others along the way.
5. Slow and steady cultivates a stronger community
Start the community small and grow steadily from here. It’s important to build a community that sticks, no matter how small as opposed to a community with 1,000 non-active members. Focus on members, reach out to them as individuals and make sure people stay active.
With a community, it’s also about cultivating a cultural bedrock. So the more active members, the better it is for the community and subsequently, the brand.