A sense of belonging is more than a luxury. It’s a fundamental human need. The evolution of social media has introduced new opportunities for people to form online communities. But, the sheer size of these platforms, combined with excessive advertising, growing privacy concerns, and lack of relevant content is turning them into sources of loneliness instead. Community marketing is a relatively new concept that focuses on human relationships to instil that sense of belonging. It’s a process that involves strengthening ties with existing customers by tapping into the communities they form, typically through digital venues like online forums and social networks.

Here are ten ways community marketing can add enormous value to your brand:

#1. Make your community mobile-first

To build a more accessible online community that’s always just a tap away, brands should put mobile devices first rather than relying on text-heavy online forums and similar platforms that don’t offer optimal experiences on the small screen. If you have to choose between a desktop platform and a community mobile app, the mobile solution is always the better choice.

Why it works

Almost everyone has a smartphone, and the number of smartphone-only internet users only continues to grow. The average smartphone owner also spends most of their time using social media apps. A mobile-first community platform greatly improves accessibility, especially when combined with push notifications for sending automated alerts.

two women using smartphone beside white fence

#2. Turn influencers into ambassadors

Every active community has members who are influencers. They’re typically the most active members, who log in regularly, post a lot and join the discussions. They’re the ones who participate constructively to the extent that they influence purchase decisions and improve customer success. You need to recognise these members as valued brand ambassadors.

Why it works

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools of all, just as it always has been. Online communities can make word of mouth more visible. By engaging your influencers and making them feel like they’re a part of the team, you’ll organically create brand ambassadors who can help increase your reach.

#3. Share relevant content

Despite attention spans being at an all-time low, brands are creating more content than ever before in an effort to make themselves heard. Unfortunately, a lot of content, whether it takes the form of blogs, videos, podcasts or any other format, lacks relevancy. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you can identify their needs and craft content that speaks to them.

 Why it works 

Online communities are driven by a mix of branded and user-generated content. Publishing the former and sharing the latter gives you the opportunity to build authority, educate the target audience, and ensure customer success. Relevant content is also far more likely to be noticed in today’s distraction-packed online social environments.

man in gray shirt leaning on table with headphones facing another man leaning on table with headboard

#4. Preserve your branding

From logos to colour schemes to slogans, your brand codes are what lend personality to your company and help people remember it. You should include these codes everywhere you can. While the opportunities to preserve your branding are lacking on public social networks, having a community platform of your own gives you full creative licence its look and feel.

Why it works

People are visual creatures. We remember visual elements and personality traits much more easily than anything else. Some corporate logos are among the most widely recognised symbols in the world. Incorporating your branding into your online community also helps build a sense of loyalty and belonging; two things that drive any successful relationship.

#5. Implement peer-to-peer moderation 

Peer-to-peer moderation is a system that allows community members to vote on content they like or downvote content they don’t. The aim is to reach a shared understanding and an overall consensus over what constitutes quality and relevancy. Many forums and social networks also allow users to report spam and other undesirable content as well.

Why it works

Not only does peer-to-peer moderation greatly ease the burden on community moderators; it also helps give greater visibility to the content that’s most relevant to your members. By giving people the ability to rate, like and share posts, they have more opportunities to engage with the community and make it a more welcoming space for everyone.

#6. Gamify your community

Gamification involves using elements traditionally associated with video gaming in non-game contexts. Examples include ranks, badges and points which are often given as rewards for constructive participation with the community. Higher ranks might also open up new privileges within the community.

Why it works

Games are fun and addictive simply because they tap into our innate human psychology, such as our desire for recognition and competitiveness. Gamifying your community also adds some fun into the experience, thus encouraging people to engage more and rise through the ranks to enjoy greater visibility and sense of purpose.

two people playing Sony PS4 game console

#7. Offer exclusive discounts

Community marketing is, in many ways, a modern take on loyalty marketing, which has been around for over a century. Many of today’s thriving brand communities are still closely tied with customer loyalty programs that lure customers in with exclusive discounts. While there’s much more to building brand loyalty today, a financial incentive is always a good starting point.

Why it works

Of all the forms of community marketing now in use across the business world, the loyalty programme is as tried and tested as they come. By offering exclusive discounts to new members, you can pique their interest with a financial incentive. You can take this even further by tying greater financial incentives to greater participation in the community.

#8. Show the face behind the avatar

Every online community should enable and encourage members to create complete profiles. This is especially important for your own community representatives, who are primarily there to set a good example and help give your brand a human face. You need to make sure people know who you are by providing genuine profile images and, ideally, brief biographies.

Why it works

No one wants to communicate with a corporate logo. By showing the face behind the avatar, you can boost transparency and foster stronger human connections. Now that many brands rely far too much on automation for almost every area of their marketing, it’s more important than ever to show people that they’re talking to a real person.

#9. Focus on human connections

Automation is one of the hottest words in marketing right now, but it’s also creating impersonal experiences that are often more likely to annoy than anything else. Communities are all about people, hence the need to participate regularly in the discussion, share user-created content and build relationships across your network while encouraging others to do the same.

Why it works

There’s a growing concern that social media is making us lonely. A lot of this is due to the fact that mainstream social media is overcrowded and does little to foster meaningful connections. By making your community about its members, rather than about your company, you can give people a sense of belonging and empower them with a voice in the direction of your brand.

aerial view of people walking on raod

#10. Solve problems

Many brand communities focus on providing peer-to-peer customer support and maximising customer success by solving problems. Some of the most valuable content you can post and share in your community includes things like how-to guides, onboarding videos, tips and tricks and anything else that solves problems or provides guidance.

Why it works

In the Age of the Consumer, effective community marketing is all about increasing customer success so they get the best possible result from using your products and services. The most effective online communities are those with constantly growing repositories of collective knowledge created both by brands and their customers.

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