In the Age of the Consumer, community-driven marketing is no longer something that’s nice to have. It’s a fundamental necessity for reaching today’s audiences.

The rise of social media and online review platforms has given everyone with internet a voice; a place where they can leave their feedback and, in doing so, shape the purchase decisions of their peers.

Why is community-based marketing trending?

With mainstream social media being so overcrowded, building a community of engaged users isn’t getting any easier. That’s where community-focussed marketing comes in as a broader, people-first approach that places engagement and quality before quantity.

Reason #1. More meaningful relationships

Although the concept of social media was originally meant to be all about well… the social element, the reality is very different. The major social networks are advertising platforms first and foremost, with social interactions between brands and their audiences rarely extending beyond likes. Effective community marketing places real relationships before anything else.

Reason #2. Authentic user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) has become the driving force shaping purchase decisions in the age of online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations on social platforms. Brands are no longer in direct control, but promoting the creation of UGC offers the benefit of a whole new level of authenticity and effectiveness.

Reason #3. Higher customer lifetime value

Customer relationships aren’t all about transactions. They’re also about brand perception and loyalty. By building and maintaining a strong community, you can foster a sense of belonging. In a lot of cases, people come for the product or service, but stay for the community. This can greatly increase customer lifetime value.

Reason #4. Deeper customer insights

There’s far more to knowing your customer than just relying on numbers and figures generated by platforms like Google Analytics. While data analytics is undoubtedly an important tool, they aren’t any match from the much deeper insights you can garner by actually getting involved with your customers on a more personal level via an online community.

How can I get started with community-based marketing?

Like any form of inbound marketing, community-focussed marketing is all about the customer and delivering value beyond your product alone. In a community, this value comes in the form of meaningful social engagement.

Here’s how to get started:

Step #1. Decide what’s right for your brand

The first step is to determine how you’re going to deliver value. Will it be through peer-to-peer support, or will it provide an opportunity for customers to leave feedback and offer suggestions of their own? These are just a couple of the options. Chances are you’ll have multiple goals.

Step #2. Define your target audience

You’ve probably already got a pretty good picture of your ideal customer, since buyer personas are essential in any area of marketing. However, some of your buyer personas might be more receptive than others to your community-building efforts, so you’ll need to think about that too.

Step #3. Choose a community platform

Yes, it is possible to build your own online community from the ground up, but doing so won’t be cheap nor easy. For most brands, the obvious choice is a white-label platform over which you have complete control, such as a website forum or a social networking app.

Step #4. Create a content strategy

There’s quite a lot of crossover between content marketing and community marketing. After all, your community isn’t going to get off the ground if there’s no content for people to engage with and talk about. Create a long-term strategy for publishing value-adding content.

Step #5. Start a pre-launch campaign

When you announce the launch of your community is up to you, but one rule of thumb is when you’ve got the platform up and running behind the scenes. A pre-launch campaign helps generate buzz before the big day, so you don’t end up having an empty community at launch.

Step #6. Choose community admins

Every community needs rules and guidelines, as well as a group of admins and moderators. But these vital roles aren’t just about enforcing order; they’re about leading by example and getting the conversation going. They’re the lifeblood of any community, so choose them wisely!

Top community-based marketing ideas

Community-focussed marketing is one of the most effective ways to build brand loyalty and stay at the forefront of people’s attention in an age of constant distraction.

Here are some proven ways to engage your users:

Idea #1. Create an online competition

People are inherently competitive in nature, and virtually everyone likes games. Competitions are a great way to raise awareness and increase your member counts, especially if there’s a chance of winning a freebie from participating.

Idea #2. Organise a real-world event

With more businesses operating exclusively in the digital space, it’s easy to forget about the benefits of organising real-world events. With a close-knit community of your own, you have the perfect venue for advertising such events and supercharging customer relationships.

Idea #3. Set up an online treasure hunt

Running an online treasure hunt can be especially effective in product ideation communities where you want to educate and entertain your members while also tapping into their expertise. It’s a great way to gather insights and create an engaging and competitive environment.

Idea #4. Livestream to your community

Livestreaming is where the real world meets the digital one. Not only does it bring your brand that bit closer to home – it also gives you the opportunity to deliver product announcements, training programs, and engaging how-to guides.

3 examples of community-based marketing to inspire you

Often, the best way to get started with any new marketing strategy is to look at what others are doing to engage their target audiences.

Here are a few examples worth looking in to:

Example #1. Monzo

Monzo is a UK-based bank that operates entirely online, but that’s not all that makes it unusual. It also revolves around its community, building its products and services based on feedback from customers. It launches real-world events too, for bringing together fans and experts alike.

Example #2. Depop

Peer-to-peer social shopping app Depop is all about tapping into creative influencers to drive the latest trends in fashion. It offers a community-based mobile shopping experience in which purchase decisions are shaped by recommendations from friends and peers.

Example #3. ASOS

Fashion and cosmetic, ASOS, retailor is similar to Depop in that it revolves around product discovery empowered by a highly active presence on social media. It relies heavily on a diverse portfolio of influencers and engaging content to help ensure customer success.

Is social media right for community-based marketing?

Many brands are making a killing on mainstream social media, and platforms like Facebook are still very popular venues for community-marketing. But there’s also a fundamental lack of control, since you’re at the mercy of a third-party which naturally puts their own interests first. To future-proof your brand, instead of relying on others, building a community of your own is undoubtedly the safest and most effective option. With white-label community platforms being available too, it doesn’t even have to be expensive or complicated.

Disciple is a community platform that gives brands complete ownership and control over the experience. Contact us today to request a demo.