Imagine cultivating a group of customers who follow you beyond the products you offer, forming a community that shows maximum loyalty to the brand. He believes that the more they invest emotionally, the greater their financial investment will be. Without a doubt, this is not a negligible thing.

Getting customers to become true standard-bearers for a brand is not easy. Not only do they buy your products, but they also help sell them, communicating their passion in a way that is far more emotional than any brand can achieve on its own.

 

What is a brand community?

A brand community is a group of people who come together because of their interest in a brand, its products, its values, and the meaning it represents.

This is not a marketing strategy, but rather a business decision. But keep in mind that mere brand awareness doesn’t mean you have a community. Just because a person has made a purchase or knows about the brand doesn’t mean they’re a member of a brand community. And that’s why creating a community can be all the difference.

The key is that brands are created by people for people and we only connect with those who give us meaning, something to believe in that transcends the product or service itself. Talking about branding is not talking about logos or advertising. To talk about a brand is to talk about meanings. That meaning, which will be shared by the community, is really the generator of trust.

 

The Coconuts Theory

Some time ago I developed “the theory of coconuts”, where the relationship between community and trust was evident. Its foundation lay in the need for brands to adapt to an ever-changing world. He argued that the most relevant brands are living brand systems that evolve and understand consumers beyond the point of sale; brands that redefine how they are and act according to the changing context of people’s lives. This is a concept that is still in force, where consumersdemand from the brands COnfianza, COmunity, COcreation and COncontent:

Confidence

Brands are relationships, and relationships are built on trust. Every brand has a promise, but only the purpose really differentiates one brand from another. The key is to ask yourself if you’re really building something that your audience feels they can put their trust in.

Community

People need to feel like they’re part of something bigger, a feeling that revolves around communities with shared interests, where it’s given and earned equally. This sense of connection makes consumers feel distinctly inspired, and brands that tap into that perception gain exponential relevance as their tribe expands.

COcreation

Customers want to be part of brands, they want to be an active part of the equation. Full co-creation means actively involving users and other relevant audiences in a global development process, from identifying a challenge to implementing and monitoring your solution.

Content

Brands are made of stories and not products or services. Brand storytelling is the most powerful tool for connecting with consumers today. The content provided by these brand stories plays a critical role in creating meaning of its own. It must be taken into consideration that every interaction with the stakeholders must be designed to provide value.

On the path of trust, communities play an essential role. Co-creation is a great way to get them involved and branded content ends up being the king in adding value.

 

5 Benefits of Brand Communities

Creating a community allows you to maintain control over what content and image is presented to the public. At the same time, it generates a sense of exclusivity between the brand and customers, raising its value. On the other hand, there are several benefits of building a community:

  1. Increased customer retention. Communities raise the commitment factor by encouraging the interaction of their members. When people are enthusiastic about what you offer, they share it and the community increases, reducing acquisition costs.
  2. Creation of spontaneous brand ambassadors. A community is always ready to give you glowing reviews and positive feedback. This is why it is important to transform community members into brand advocates, thus achieving the power to act as a community megaphone and being able to influence others to enjoy the experience.
  3. Better customer experience. Communities are a great way to get feedback and learn firsthand about their experiences. You can use this data as input to improve future customer interactions, to discover new opportunities, to improve your weaknesses…
  4. Increases added value for members. Many of the purchases are made through the prior search for information and comments from other customers. Stakeholders benefit from making a more informed decision about their new purchase, which in turn helps increase revenue. User-generated content is the best way to positively influence other people, increase your brand loyalty, and help attract new users.
  5. Improved projection. Sharing useful and productive content with the community can create conversation and, in doing so, build authority. This means that the higher your authority, the greater your reach, so your audience will likely recommend the brand to others.

 

How to Build a Brand Community

Building a strong brand community can take different forms. You can adapt it to your own needs. The most important thing to consider is that a brand community represents a place that invests in relationships. It’s about people and creating a sense of belonging and exclusivity between them.

Logically, the starting point is the brand itself, having identified its DNA, its meaning, its purpose, its personality… From there, consider the following steps:

  1. Define your goals and metrics. Before creating a community, you must find answers to many questions, always with the focus on the customer.

What is the goal of this community?

How are you going to help your audience stay engaged?

How are you going to measure the success of the community?

What kind of metrics do you want to track?

How do you think this community will help you achieve your company’s goals?

  1. Find your community. Your existing customers are a great place to start. Check your social media platforms, email lists, and real-life connections to find a taste of who’s going to be a part of your future community. It’s a great start to reach out to customers who have already shown some interest in the brand and would likely recommend it to others.
  2. Choose a platform for your community. There are quite a few options when it comes to finding a suitable space for a community. See:

-Forums. A forum could be a meeting point for a larger community to discuss a variety of topics and interests, no matter if they are connected to the brand.

-Social media platforms. When it comes to social media, there are two ways to manage your community. The first is to interact through your existing account and the second is to create a specific group on social media.

-Affiliate programs. Another way to connect with your audience is by creating a program that offers rewards to your most loyal members. In this case, you can use affiliate marketing software like Sharesale or Zanox to track the results.

-Team communication tools. Sometimes brands prefer to use mediation platforms to engage the community. Some options you can choose from are Slack or Mobilize, which allow you to create a variety of channels and topics for your community making it easier for them to discuss with each other.

  1. Interact and dialogue. As with any strategy, you should create a plan to initiate and maintain community engagement. Set some guidelines, define rules about moderation, schedule a content calendar… You have to provide community members with a reason to stay active. And that means you have to answer all their questions and encourage them to generate and participate in conversations.

To build loyalty-based relationships, Metionlytics’ engagement tools can help you not miss anything posted by someone in your community.

  1. Inspire the community on an emotional level. Brand loyalty is the main reason behind emotional connection. Take iPhones, for example, their customers spend huge amounts of money and their fans are even able to wait for a night on the street in front of a store before a new release, not because they consider the products better than those of any other brand, but because they feel that it is part of who they are, part of their identity.

Why It’s Important to Build Your Own Brand Community

People like to be seen, heard, and be part of something bigger than themselves. We value being members of a group because with it we more easily build emotional relationships, which are the engine of our lives.

By creating a brand community, nurturing it, giving it what it needs every day, customers are better able to connect with each other and with people who share the same interests as them. As soon as they have that connection, they can start interacting and becoming active advocates for the brand. Once you integrate it into your business strategy, the results will have an impact on your customers, your brand value, and your bottom line.

 

 

Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward