Excellent services or products are definitely the foundation of a successful business. But now potential customers pay attention to the atmosphere around the brand, its values and mission. That’s why businesses need to invest in building a strong community and make it one of the main tools for interacting with their audience.
Why does a business need a community?
As I said before, the community helps you interact directly with existing and potential customers, communicate your brand philosophy and values, and increase your loyal audience. And that’s a small part of the benefits you get if you start building a community.
What is a brand community? The concept is thought to have first been coined by Albert Muniz, Jr. and Thomas S. O’Guinn. They defined a brand community as a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand.
The community helps a business to live and grow, as well as to showcase its individuality and differentiate from other companies in the market. It also serves as a great opportunity to improve business reputation, increase expertise, and publish the user-generated content (UGC) I wrote about earlier.
There are several examples of successful brand communities: Nike Run Club, Apple, Sony, LEGO, Oracle, or Harley-Davidson.
How do you build a community? Practical tips to get started
Building a community and keeping it in good condition is a hard process that requires planning and commitment. I want to give some advice before you get started:
Analyze the competitors in your field.
What do they do, do they have a community, and how is it organized? You can look at how they communicate with their audience and what TOV (Tone of Voice) they use. Think about what you offer that is original and different from existing communities.
Analyze your audience.
What would they be interested in? How can you organize them into a community? Ideally, you can segment your audience based on their area of employment or age. This allows you to understand your audience’s goals and interests.
Formulate your community's purpose, mission, values, and goals.
Will it be a community of experts or a community of people united by a common occupation, a common mission? A good goal and mission statement allows you to be more specific about your community’s content plan. The goals of your community can be different: whether it’s to sell products or services, to attract new clients, to unite people under a common mission, or to increase brand awareness.
Develop a content plan and define the rules within the community.
Avoid aggression and insults, as well as discussion of topics that have nothing to do with the community. You can stick to one overarching theme, or you can make networking a part of your community.
Be sure to have moderators and an administrator on the team.
They will keep order in your community. By the way, often the most active members of the community later become moderators and help monitor the processes in the community. One of the tasks of moderators can be to maintain order in the community, keep the conversation going, help with processes or build relationships between the community members. Also, the community can help you find new ambassadors for the business.
Don't forget to collect feedback.
Analyze the results and metrics of activity and engagement. This will help you understand what your audience likes best.
With the ubiquity of social networks, it has become easier to create and develop communities. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Building a successful community is a long and complicated process, but it is an investment in your business processes.