Brand communities are becoming common for customer-focused brands, we look at ten ways that having one adds value to a brand

Branding isn’t the relatively one-sided affair that it used to be. Today, a brand’s reputation is heavily shaped by the way it conducts its business in its brand community.  Whether the community is forum based  (like Monzo’s), or app-based like Rod Stryker’s.   It’s forged not just from memorable things like logos and typefaces, but from the interactions and relationships, it has with its fans and customers. More than ever, a brand is the personification of an organisation, and just like people, a brand’s worth is shaped by the company it keeps and the community it builds around it. That’s why a strong brand community is one of the most valuable assets a modern business can ever have.

Here’s a look at the top ten ways a brand community adds business value:

#1. Monetise your target audience

Brand communities can open up new avenues for selling to new and existing customers alike. One of the most effective of these is social shopping, an e-commerce methodology in which shopping experiences are shared among peers. In some way, social shopping mirrors the way people often head to the mall with friends and influence one another’s purchase decisions.

         Why it works

Monetising your target audience by selling through your brand community provides a direct stream of revenue. This allows sales teams to outperform their targets and improve customer experiences in line with today’s demands. Brand communities are especially well-suited to interactive online courses.

#2. Deflect customer support tickets

Consumers rank good customer support as one of the top reasons for staying loyal to their favourite brands. At the same time, as your reach and customer base increases, it becomes exponentially harder to maintain an excellent standard of customer support. That’s why many brands leverage their communities for offering peer-to-peer support and knowledge sharing.

         Why it works

Many brand communities exist primarily to improve customer support. This includes providing access to recurring questions and concerns, many of which end up being addressed by other members. This deflects support tickets, freeing up time for support departments to deal with more important and complicated matters.

#3. Brainstorm the next big idea

Transparency and customer engagement go hand in hand to create more memorable and enjoyable customer experiences. These come with two-way conversation and the ability for customers to get actively involved with the development of the brands they love. Many brand communities are implemented to support product ideation and brainstorming.

         Why it works

Innovative companies pour huge amounts of money into research and development to unveil the next great idea. That’s something which almost invariably comes out of a team effort. If an online community can support those efforts, then you can turn customer knowledge into profit.

#4. Test-run new products

Some products and services take years of research, design, and prototyping. But sometimes, no amount of internal testing can ensure a product is truly ready for the market on launch day. Product testing communities are especially popular in the software sector, where it often takes many thousands of working hours to get a new product ready for sale.

         Why it works

By tapping into the knowledge and experiences of your most enthusiastic customers, a brand community presents the ideal platform for testing new products and getting feedback. Not only does this empower customers with a voice – it also takes quality control to a whole new level.

#5. Become an industry authority

It’s harder than ever to make an impact in today’s crowded and highly competitive market, which is why most startups fail within their first couple of years. Brands, including established ones, need to work tirelessly to build a name for themselves and have those names associated instantly with trust and quality.

         Why it works

By sharing valuable and relevant content with your community, you can get the conversation going and build authority. The greater your authority, the greater your reach, and customers will be more likely to refer you.

#6. Solidify brand reputation

Brands face a constant slew of threats from those who would wish to harm their reputations. From social engineering scams to copyright infringement to account takeovers, social media is fraught with dangers. Building and protecting a brand’s reputation requires proactive thinking and strong, personalised connections with its biggest fans.

         Why it works

When you have your own brand community, you’re not at the mercy of any third parties and their often-poor track records when it comes to privacy and security. This gives you a way to build and maintain a strong brand core, which will permeate your entire digital strategy.

#7. Nurture customer loyalty

In the old days, customer loyalty was largely enabled by simple reward programmes. Today, there’s a lot more to nurturing customer loyalty than simply trying to buy them with things like exclusive discounts. You also need to take every possible step to ensure customer success and enable them to enjoy the very best results from using your product or service.

         Why it works

Brand communities enable customer success through brand- and user-created content like guides and answers to common questions and issues. This boosts customer success which, in turn, keeps them coming back for more.

#8. Enable data-driven decision making

Data is increasingly behind every decision that business leaders make, and brand building is no exception. Although it’s hard to qualify and quantify the value of relationships that manifest themselves in brand communities, there are plenty of ways to quantify interactions and learn how people perceive your brand.

         Why it works

Far beyond the meaningless ‘likes’ on Facebook, an owned brand community gives you full control over the data, which also opens up more valuable ways to interpret it. For example, you can use analytics to track recurring issues, engagement rates, and customer sentiment.

#9. Increase brand visibility

Consumers who first find out about a brand online usually do so through a quick search on Google or after seeing a recommendation from a peer on social media. Sponsored advertising is another possibility, but it can cost a lot, and it’s often ineffective. Your brand community can boost visibility in both search results and mainstream social channels.

         Why it works

A brand community provides a space for fans and customers to provide feedback and partake in online discussions. These interactions increase authenticity, which is a key Google ranking factor, and it also increase the chances of people spreading the good word on social media.

#10. Inspire brand advocacy

In a generic community, such as your average following on a major social media channel, it’s difficult to tell who your top advocates are. After all, anyone can follow a brand on Facebook, and a sizable portion of them will likely be fake profiles anyway. To inspire brand advocacy, you need to nurture your biggest fans and recognise their contributions.

         Why it works

Members of an exclusive brand community are more intrinsically motivated to engage, which gives you the chance to turn them into loyal advocates. With the right approach, advocates can become an extension of your internal team, bringing value throughout every facet of your organisation.

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 goals.