Every brand that has customers has a community which forms the basis of attachment to the company’s products and services. By building a brand community of your own, you’ll have the opportunity to forge closer ties with your customers, build loyalty, increase your reach, and offer a better customer experience overall. But there’s a lot more to building a great community than simply opening a business page on Facebook or installing a forum on your website.

Communities need to be accessible and offer a user-friendly experience to get people to sign up the first place, as well as engage regularly thereafter. This can be difficult to achieve with mainstream social media, where it’s much harder to create a close-knit customer community in which members can make themselves heard through all the digital noise. Having a private community, such as a website forum, is a great start, but it’s not likely to draw much attention.

Make your community accessible to everyone

Almost everyone now owns a smartphone. Desktop internet usage continues to fall in favour of mobile platforms that travel with us wherever we go. Last year, there were more than 205 million mobile app downloads globally, and the number of mobile-only internet users is also rising steadily. Mobile web traffic now accounts for half of all internet usage, with social media being one of the most popular activities of all.

From these figures alone, we can easily draw the conclusion that an online community app is a must-have for any brand community that wants to be as accessible as possible. Consider, for example, how frequently people check their Facebook timelines or hop on WhatsApp to send a quick message using their smartphones. It’s a lot more convenient than taking out the laptop and waiting for it to boot up. Not to mention the fact we don’t tend to carry our laptops everywhere with us.

The increasing ubiquity of mobile internet is also fuelling the need for a strong mobile presence for brands across all industries. Sure, there might still be some pockets of the UK which don’t yet have 4G internet, but things are changing fast. In fact, the pending rollout of 5G services in 2020 will only make the web more accessible to the extent that our favourite social spaces will always be just a tap away no matter where we go.

Building a mobile-friendly community just isn’t enough. That’s not to say the desktop is dead, and nor will it be in the foreseeable future, but the fact is that virtually everyone has a mobile phone, with desktop devices rapidly being relegated to niche environments. If you want your brand to stay in the forefront of people’s minds, then you need an online community app that lets members check in whenever they want, no matter where they are. 

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Boost sales with mobile shopping experiences

For a long time, consumers preferred to conduct their shopping from a desktop device, using their smartphones only for initial research and browsing. Today, thanks to the better security, functionality and responsiveness of modern mobile devices, mobile ecommerce now enjoys a market share of over half of all ecommerce experiences. Never has it been more important for brands that sell online to deliver a mobile-first experience.

Add social selling into the equation, and you’ve got yourself a mobile community that doesn’t only serve as a space for your customers to get together and share insights and experiences; but a space for selling too. A recent study found that 55% of consumers have made an online purchase after initially discovering it on social media. By integrating social selling with your brand community, you can start taking advantage of entirely new streams of revenue.

While brand communities are first and foremost about increasing engagement and enhancing visibility, having an online community app of your own is far more likely to get people into buying mode. This contrasts to mainstream social media, which people more often use to keep in touch with friends or view the latest news updates. But when your brand is in center stage, as it will be in an exclusive social space of your own, the chances of them being in the mood to buy will be much greater.

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, many online shopping platforms already offer a mobile-first experience. For example, by connecting a Shopify account to your mobile community app, it’s possible to provide easy access to a pre-existing online store for your mobile and social users. Integrate major payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay into the mix, and you have everything you need to turn your brand community into a mobile shopping experience.

Keep your members informed no matter where they are

You’ve worked long and hard building your brand and publishing content to support it, but you’ll never get the return on investment that your efforts deserve if people can’t find it. There’s simply no better way to increase the visibility of your content, whether that’s blog posts, videos, podcasts or even live feeds, than by publishing it directly to your community. With a mobile community app, your target audience will always be kept in the loop.

At this point, it must be said that brands need to be cautious when taking advantage of the greatly enhanced accessibility of mobile platforms. After all, no one appreciates receiving a constant barrage of push notifications at all hours. But with the right approach, you can hand over the power to your members to choose which notifications they want to receive and when. For example, the clients of a personal trainer or a yoga studio might want to keep informed about upcoming training sessions and other events.

Simply having an online community app in the first place gives your target audience the option to check for updates whenever and wherever they want. According to eMarketer, mobile users spend an average of 40 minutes per day checking social media. If you can occupy a segment of that time with your members, then they’ll become more engaged with your brand and grow accustomed to regularly logging in to find out about the latest updates and events.

An online community app is especially valuable for businesses that offer services like online courses, workshops, or trainings. Since most of these services depend heavily on teamwork and strong collaboration, the importance of the social element cannot be understated. When you have a mobile-first social space, you can add online versions of your services to give members who are unable to attend events in person the option to avoid missing out.

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Final words

Offering a mobile-first community experience to your customers is no longer optional. It’s a business imperative that provides unprecedented opportunities to grow your brand with better engagement rates and more streams of revenue. In today’s increasingly connected world, a mobile social space will fast become a critical asset for your brand and something that adds value to every facet of your business.

Disciple social spaces help brands enjoy all the benefits of having a community with an independent, valuable, and trusted platform in a safe space they own and control. Start building your brand community today by telling us about your goals