Do you know how your brand makes customers feel?
If not, it may be time to consider building a brand community.
This goes beyond just growing your Facebook fans or Twitter followers.
In this post, we’ll reveal the top strategies needed to effectively create and manage brand communities, as well as some examples of brands that are excelling at social media and brand community marketing.
What We’ll Cover:
- What is Community Management?
- Brand Community Myths
- Building a Community Management Strategy
- Examples of Top Brands that Build Communities on Social Media
What is Community Management?
While community management is typically used interchangeably with social media management, social media doesn’t encompass the entire process.
In reality, a brand community is spread out across the internet on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Quora, online forums, and even within the comment sections of blog posts and articles.
It is defined as a group of dedicated consumers that are organized around the lifestyle, behaviors, and culture of a particular brand.
According to Shopify, “Your community consists of your current customers, target audiences, and all the people who interact with your brand directly and indirectly online.”
Community management is part customer service, part understanding the conversations taking place on the internet, and part proactively engaging and playing an active role in the discussions that relate to your brand.
Where social media marketing casts a wider net, community management usually starts off on a smaller scale. However, it can grow your brand’s online presence both on and outside of your social media pages.
Brands that haven’t implemented a solid community management plan miss out on performing activities like:
- Managing and troubleshooting customer complaints
- Creating an unforgettable user experience
- Converting customers into loyal brand ambassadors
- Gaining the support of influencers and prospects
- Networking and partnering with other brands
- Receiving valuable, unfiltered product feedback
- Being the most trusted and prominent voice in the comments section
Brand Community Myths
There are plenty of misconceptions that surround brand community management. In order to shed light on the true power behind community management, we’re debunking some of the most common social media and brand community marketing myths:
Brand Community = Marketing Strategy
Far too often, companies end up isolating their community-building efforts solely within the marketing sphere. You’re putting yourself at a disadvantage when you do this. For a brand community to fulfill its purpose, it needs to be positioned as a higher-level strategy that supports business-wide goals.
Brand Community Serves the Business, Not the People
Consumers are real people with varying needs, preferences, and interests. They participate in communities for numerous reasons spanning ways to cultivate new skills, contribute to the greater good, and find encouragement. The best community-based brands build loyalty not just through boosting sales, but by helping customers get those needs met.
Community-Building is Not a Campaign
Contrary to popular belief, community management is not a one-off project. It’s a long-term investment that requires you to continually deliver on your promises. If you do plan on investing in short-term community programs, they must contribute to your larger community-building strategy. A single book club, meetup, or contest won’t cut it.
Brand Communities Should Focus on Existing Brand Advocates
It’s common for organizations to want to avoid conflict at all costs. But, the truth is communities are rife with politics and in-fighting. A smart company welcomes and embraces conflict. Communities are strengthened when they highlight the boundaries that define their brand, not erase them.
Opinion Leaders Spearhead Community-Building
Don’t get us wrong—opinion leaders play an integral role important in social networks. They’re the ones who spread information, persuade influencers, and help new trends gain traction. But whereas focusing on evangelists may be sound advice for certain campaigns, it’s not an ideal approach to community building. Healthier communities empower everyone to play a part.
Building a Community Management Strategy
While there are a number of ways to build a thriving online community, today we’re going to be examining it exclusively through the lens of social media.
With these community management social media tips, you’ll create a win-win for both you and your customers in record time:
Choose your Primary Social Media Channel
Where will you be managing your community?
For this, you’ll need to pay close attention to where your customers spend most of their time online in order to really maximize your community management efforts.
Consider the nature of your business. It depends on whether the company is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).
For both B2B and B2C companies, social media can be leveraged as a lead generation tool. LinkedIn, in particular, has been proven to be effective in attracting the attention of business professionals and high-level decision-makers. You’re also able to target current and potential clients while building a personal connection.
For B2C organizations, Facebook and Instagram help with boosting visibility, acting as large-scale advertising platforms where you can visually engage and interact with your audience. In a study by Clutch, nearly 60 percent of the B2C companies surveyed cited that social media has a positive influence on their revenue and sales.
If you have a sizable following on more than one platform, then make sure to build out a distinct strategy for each channel. What works on Facebook may not work on Twitter.
Do Your Homework
As you refine your community relationship management and social media strategy, the research phase is essential. This is where some A/B testing might come in handy.
Different posts will yield different results. Find out who is responding and which posts are receiving the most responses and/or the most positive feedback.
Polls can help you determine the type of content users expect to see from your brand.
You need to hear your users out so you can give them what they want and thereby, gain their business.
Set Goals and Measure Them Frequently
It’s best to have a specific goal in mind when mapping out your online community strategy. Here are a few metrics you can choose to focus on:
- Increase social media followers and shares
- Improve website traffic
- Boost overall engagement
- Reduce the number of support calls
No matter what you’re looking to gain, run reports on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Compare them against past periods to see which part of your community management strategy may need some additional tweaking.
Consider Using Automation Tools
Since you can’t be online at all times, marketing automation can help ensure you’re delivering a consistent response across all channels.
And whenever your community reaches out to you, it’s important to have a plan of attack. A built-in chatbot feature or keyword tracker might be a good place to start.
Engage with Your Online Audience
When it comes to social media, consistency is key. Once you’re on a posting schedule that you can stick to, users will expect to come across your content at certain times.
But it doesn’t end there. Nurturing a relationship with your customers means you have to engage with them directly too. Be sure to “like” their comments and answer all their questions. Something as simple as a “Thanks so much for your kind words!” or “We’re glad you’re enjoying it!” will go a long way.
Examples of Top Brands that Build Communities on Social Media
When done well, branded communities create an inclusive experience for the customer. They listen to them. They understand them. They equip them with the tools and techniques necessary to achieve their own goals.
Here are a few inspiring examples of brands that have discovered innovative ways to build communities on social media:
Sephora Beauty Insider Community
In 2017, Sephora launched a one-of-a-kind social beauty platform, blending together two popular online features—Groups (online round-table similar to Reddit) and Beauty Board (gallery featuring user-submitted photos and reviews). Whoever is a member of Sephora’s loyalty program can join.
Users are able to ask questions, exchange ideas, and discuss pain points, all without Sephora having to sell a single product. With all this information on display in the forum, the company’s marketing team can find out which items customers are interested in and address customer service issues right there and then.
Airbnb Host Community
With Airbnb already being a brand built on the concept of home and belonging, it’s no wonder that its host community has experienced so much success over the years. The site describes the community center as “a place to connect with other hosts, share stories, ask for advice, and get updates from the Airbnb team. You can also plan or join meetups.”
With their Create Airbnb platform, the brand invites users to create their own unique logos, and describe what makes their homes and communities worth visiting.
It’s safe to say that GoPro has become more of a lifestyle than a product. Its platform allows fans to share their adventures with other outdoor enthusiasts.
With a marketing strategy that’s driven by user-generated video content, GoPro can showcase the quality of their cameras without having to lift a finger. It’s gotten so popular that roughly 6,000 GoPro-tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube daily.
Lego Ideas Community
Lego Ideas is a creative online community that encourages fans to find and submit ideas for new Lego designs.
It also adds a layer of competition where people can vote for their favorites and offer feedback. For designs that receive 10,000 votes or more, Lego will deliberate on making the winner one of the brand’s official sets, even giving the designer a cut of final sales. What better way to build brand trust than with a can’t-miss incentive?
The Playstation Community features forums that make it easy for gamers to connect. The network provides a space where they can discuss strategies, share their progress, and befriend like-minded players.
And since the users’ profiles are linked to their social media accounts on YouTube and Twitter, they’re able to enjoy a consistent, multi-channel brand experience.
Today’s brands need to do more than just sell products and services.
Consumers crave community.
When it comes to creating connections, brands need to take this opportunity to step up their game.
By utilizing the above mentioned social media and brand community marketing strategies, your business will be well on its way to successfully building brand communities and as a result, growing your revenue stream.