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8 ways businesses can transform into thriving community brands

Getting noticed in today’s dynamic marketplace isn’t easy. You can spend all your advertising dollars on outbound marketing strategies, but there’s still no guarantee you’ll get heard above the clamour of competition. Neither will it help you retain customers or build a loyal following. Now that our purchase decisions are more heavily influenced by our peers than ever before, the significance of communities cannot be understated. That’s why every business needs a community brand. Here are eight ways businesses can transform into thriving community brands.

#1. Deliver value to your people

Building a community-centric brand isn’t all about trying something entirely new and doing away with the old in the process. In fact, brand communities are really just the next step in the evolution of loyalty programmes, which have existed for around a century. What it all comes down to is offering maximum value to your customers. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s that virtually all customers are receptive to financial benefits. That’s why many successful brand communities are tied with loyalty programmes.

Why it works

 Providing a financial incentive in the form of a highly accessible loyalty programmes is a great drive to get customers to your community in the first place. If they can get instant access to exclusive discounts and other rewards, they’ll feel more disposed towards leaving the big social networks and participating in your exclusive brand community.

#2. Put customer success first

Many businesses still think solely about numbers and figures. They think about marketing in terms of things like how many people they can sign up to their email newsletters or how many followers they can get in social media. Instead, they should be getting into the mindset of why their customers would want to form a community brand. Customers aren’t mere transactions; they’re people who demand relevance, transparency, and value. They also have the power to influence the purchase decisions of others, hence the importance of customer success.

Why it works

Customer success is a business methodology aimed at ensuring customers derive maximum value out of their purchases. Customer-centric businesses foster an environment that brings people together to share their ideas and experiences are share value. A community provides the space that makes it all possible.

#3. Empower many-to-many relationships

In the old days, advertising depended primarily on interrupting people with things like television commercials or banner ads. Brands did almost all the talking in one-to-many relationships that did little to nothing to inspire meaningful long-term engagement. The rise of social media came with enormous change, but the unprecedented growth of mainstream channels has turned it into a one-to-many platform where everyone’s jostling for control among all the noise. Many-to-many relationships, by contrast, depend on peer-to-peer discussion.

Why it works

 A community brand is about much more than the relationships between the business and their customers. It’s about relationships between customers too, where community members derive value from one another. These many-to-many relationships give rise to things like user guides, suggestions, and recommendations that help fuel customer success.

#4. Be more accessible

Brands still have to be found in the first place, hence the value that platforms like mainstream social media still provides to marketing teams. But, when you’re relying on these platforms entirely, it doesn’t take long before you stop being accessible. People will fast forget about you when your posts are drowned beneath a torrent of newsfeed updates. Community brands, by contrast, usually have their own platforms, such as online forums or private social networks, where customers can interact at their own pace on the device of their choosing.

Why it works

When you have your own community brand, you’re in control. It’s not about numbers as much as it is about meaningful engagement – after all, follower counts mean nothing if there is little or no real interaction. With a combination of public and private channels at your disposal, your brand will always be just a tap away. 

#5. Highlight user-generated content 

User-generated content refers to any kind of content created by a person about a brand or its products and services. It might be something as in-depth as a lengthy video review created by an unaffiliated industry influencer or as simple as an answer on a forum with a solution to a known problem. Among the most common forms of UGC are online reviews, pictures shared on social media, and answers to support requests posted by other customers. In fact, many leading influencers make their livings from creating and sharing UGC.

Why it works

 UGC is the cornerstone of any inbound marketing strategy now that customers have the power to be heard online. The success of community brands relies heavily on UGC, since it’s more authentic and trustworthy. By showcasing it in your community forums or social pages, you can tap into the ego of your customers and publicly recognise them for their participation.

#6. Share an inside look

Many of the products we take for granted everyday are a complete mystery to most of us. We have little or no idea of how they’re made or the stories of the great minds behind them. Yet, what goes on behind the scenes is a constant source of fascination for a lot of people. Even if it isn’t, chances are there’s a lot of interesting things that go into creating the products and services your customers love. Community-driven companies blur the lines between customers and employees by sharing an inside look rather than being faceless brands.

Why it works

No community brand can exist if you’re just another faceless brand without a story. That’s why providing a sneak peak into what goes on behind the scenes helps make your customers feel like they’re part of the team, while also giving you ample content ideas to share with your community. 

#7. Don’t be an outsider

Community brands might be primarily about many-to-many relationships, but that doesn’t mean they should leave all the hard work up to their customers. If they do, customers will lose their sense of loyalty and quite possibly become more loyal to the community than to the brand behind it. While that’s not always a bad thing, no one wants to feel like they’re being ignored. Community managers are brand representatives who lead the conversation and ensure that the brand maintains a persistent presence in its own community.

Why it works

There’s a lot more to community management than moderating forums and banning people for breaking the rules. By getting deep into the dialogue, community managers and other brand representatives can forge stronger relationships. After all, advocates don’t want to think you’re doing nothing more than silently observing them.

#8. Bring your online community offline

With almost all brand-building initiatives being focussed on the online world, the offline world often ends up neglected. It’s hardly surprising either, given the low costs of marketing on the web and the fact that you can reach audiences anywhere. To truly create a sense of belonging, particularly if you’re going for more localised audiences, you’ll need to incorporate offline events. In consumer-facing industries, these may include festivals or competitions, while B2B companies often frequent trade fairs and other gatherings focussed on professionals.

Why it works

Offline events foster a stronger sense of belonging simple because there’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face. It helps your brand build stronger relationships, while the content captured at such events (such as photos and videos) encourage live sharing through your online community. This way, even people who can’t attend in person can get involved too. 

Disciple community platform help brands enjoy all the benefits of community with an independent, valuable, and trusted platform in a safe space that they own and control.

Seb Abecasis in
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Seb Abecasis in Community building
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