How Powerful Brands Build Robust Communities
For the modern marketer, tactics have evolved. What was once a one-trick pony has now evolved into a multi-directional experience. Marketers must understand how to leverage social media, community management, email, live events, and blogs into their marketing mix.
The modern marketer understands the needs of their audience. In a noisy world where consumers are being bombarded with messages from all directions, modern marketers must stay engaged and create immersive experiences for greater business value. One of the best ways to achieve such value is by building a community.
In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss:
- Why brands create communities to interact with customers
- What philosophies brands infuse in their communities for the best results
- How you can effectively and successfully create your own community
Why Brands Create Communities to Interact With Customers
The proliferation of social media in business activities over the past few years has created the closest communication that businesses have known with customers. Customers can now voice complaints and suggestions over social media as well as procuring the latest deals. Businesses know that continuing to keep in touch with customers is good business.
Community management tools are hot as well. Facebook’s Groups feature is very popular with new additions every month, including a selling feature in May. Another company is Jive Software, whose communities are used by the likes of many Fortune 500 companies. In both instances, customers, partners, and fans of the brand are able to stay in touch and create effective business communication.
Brands also create communities because they know what can happen if they don’t. United Airlines for example, was caught in the fray of social media when luggage handlers broke fragile guitars by throwing them onto the airplane carousel. This resulted in the creation of the “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube video which went viral, costing the company a great deal of business and a public relations nightmare. Costly marketing mistakes as a whole result lost customers and a shattered public perception.
On the flipside, customer communities serve brands well. Fortune 500 technology company Cisco, for example, leverages communities to stay in touch with partners and customers. Both parties within the communities are able to learn about new products, provide their thoughts, and gain new knowledge about Cisco’s product portfolio. Such a strategy reduces friction between customers and companies since there’s less marketing budget spent on pull marketing.
What Philosophies Brands Infuse in their Communities for the Best Results
The first thing in any community strategy is a focus on content. Communities otherwise do not thrive because members have nothing to engage with. Within a community, content focuses on what delivers the greatest value, whether it’s a deal that leads to more revenue or a best practice. In the group that I run on Facebook called Albert’s Job Listings & Referrals, content is in the format of job listings from various companies. The steady flow of job listings keeps members coming back for more.
The second thing in any community strategy is creating the conversation. Tactical modern marketers understand that conversation is the central point of any community, and seek to create and maintain a constant flow of dialogue. Through dialogue members get to know each other and build stronger relationships, which in turn creates a stronger community due to relatability. A good modern marketer also knows that it’s important to moderate a community and create a safe environment where members can say what they feel, safely.
Finally, the shrewd marketer knows that the community is not the end all be all for the brand, and serves as a powerful tool in the sales funnel. Communities are seen not just as the center of conversation but also as a tool for converting members from conversations to sales. Going back to our company we mentioned earlier, Cisco, the technology giant also leverages its communities to convert partners into selling more of their products and teaching them about the changes in the networking industry.
How You Can Effectively and Successfully Create Your Own Community
Though you might not be a Fortune 500 like Cisco or United Airlines, you can still create your own community. There are however, preparations you must make before you create your community to ensure that your audience has a good experience and so that your efforts reward you.
- Decide what your community looks like: Software like Jive usually runs in the thousands of dollars, especially when you purchase personalized customer support. You may instead opt for something free, like Facebook groups. Deciding what your community looks like may also hinge on the overall experience. You may opt to have your community be in total secrecy, private, or public and available to anyone interested.
- Figure out the business reason for your community: While building a community feels nice, there’s also a business reason to consider as well. Are you using the community for customer service? Do you want to sell your customers something and get to know them? Many things appear shiny in social media, but not everything can be considered practical.
- Decide your ROI: Much like the last point, decide what you want to invest into your community as well. When running Albert’s Job Listings & Referrals, I’ve decided my ROI to focus on getting people hired and ultimately partnering with as many recruiters and resources as possible. Your ROI obviously will be different.
- Create a set of community guidelines: When creating a community it’s always important to consider how your members will interact. Left to their own devices, people will be people and turn a community into their own, which may not necessarily be good for you. Know how to fight against rogue community members, members who want to sell their own thing, or disrupt your community experience.
Closing Thoughts and What’s Next
Now that you understand what you need to do, we hope that you’ll fight through the noise and explore creating your own community to benefit your business. Check back here at Curatti as we’ll be sharing more advice to help you discover how you can take your community to its fullest potential.
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