Build Your Community: The Key to Brand Success

15 MIN

An Insecure World

In today’s digitally connected global society, there are many people who still feel disconnected from others. Despite having real-time communication at the snap of their fingers, despite having hundreds of network connections, people still feel isolated. This applies to personal relationships as well as business relationships between brands and their customers.

The generation that was all but born with a device in their hand (the 18–24 year old adults in 2020) are four times as likely to feel lonely most of the time compared to those over 70.

So, why do people feel disassociated?

The main reason is a lack of community.

With the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the social world norms as we know, having a community that provides a sense of belonging is important for individuals and organisations more than ever.

What is Community Management?

If you were asked to define your organisation’s ‘community’, could you answer with certainty about the composition of the online personas that exist within that community? Are you able to understand the group dynamics that govern your community? Are you able to humanize your community?

It is practically impossible to talk personally to each person in your community and understand their individual needs and wants. The nitty-gritty involved in personalising attention cannot be studied in individual silos. So you have to think about people in clusters. Communities.

A community is a group of individuals who share common interests. A community can be defined through the common characteristics of the people within it and through the strength of the connections between them. A community provides its members with some sense of belonging and interpersonal relationship. Recent data from Kantar Media found that the most used and trusted source of information about brands across the globe is friends and family. 

In order to segment individuals within a community as clusters, it is imperative to understand their shared attributes. The strength of connections among these clusters is crucial to mobilise the entire community. Whether it’s a large community or a niche one, the key is to be specific about the audience segments that you seek.

There are different types of communities that exist: namely communities based on interest, place, practice, action and circumstances. Within a single community itself there are so many sub-groups that can continue to form constantly. It becomes important for brands to deploy dedicated community managers. These community managers need to be like hawks that track every movement of their targets and not let them out of their sight.

The focus of marketing previously was based on width, to empower brands to reach as many people as possible with their marketing efforts. The more eyeballs, the more money you make. However, acquiring a new customer costs 16 times more than maintaining an existing customer. The immediate need for established brands is to shift the focus towards going deep and analysing the intrinsic behaviours that govern multiple segments within the community.

Why Does it Matter?

Brands are investing countless hours and dollars producing content on social media that appeals to their target audiences.

Although engaging and relevant content is vital, Nielsen points out that only 15% of global consumers are influenced to stay loyal to a brand due to advertising or marketing messages. This is just one half of the requirements for successful content marketing. Community management forms the second half.

Community management is the personal touch. It’s how brands express their care for the interpersonal experiences of their audience. One-to-one conversations matter.

From providing basic information to suppressing negative sentiments while amplifying positive ones, community management is the key that unlocks all doors of opportunity for businesses to establish a strong brand identity.

Here are 5 top reasons why community management serves as an important strategy tool for brands:

  • Customer Relationship Management

From building trust to service recovery, a well managed community plays an important role in laying the foundation for a strong customer relationship management (CRM) framework. Consumers desire immediate responses to their complaints or to their questions posted on social media. According to statistics, 67% of consumers now turn to social media platforms to resolve their issues. Delays in responses can be seen as contempt from the brand. Poor feedback prompts consumers to switch brands.

  • Content Distribution

Pushing great content is quintessential, but getting that content to spur engagement is equally as important. Great content needs great distribution strategies as well as great response feedback. This is how you get to know if your content marketing is effective or not. Content marketing and community management go hand-in-hand. Your community extends your content ideas.

  • Customer Engagement

“If you don’t talk to your customers, how will you know how to talk to your customers?” – Will Evans

In order to curate and deliver compelling content for users to engage with you, it’s important to gather real-time customer insights. Tastes and preferences keep on changing with a single click of a button. The only way to get actionable insights is by forming deeper connections with your audience. It can be through replying to their comments, having one-to-one conversations through instant messaging channels, or even sending them a new launch product survey to ask for their opinions. This is where community management enforces the focus on what matters most – your audience.

  • Brand personification

A report from Edelman revealed that, for a large majority of global and US consumers, a deciding factor in a purchase decision is trusting a brand to do the right thing. The same report found that brand trust can also lead to loyalty and advocacy for a brand. Brand advocacy can only be established if brands start thinking about how their audience feels towards their brand values and what the factors are that make them engage with the brand. Community management humanises the brand and creates relationships with fans.

  • Innovation Hub

Communities offer valuable insights into the minds of the people that brands otherwise spend millions of dollars in conducting market research. A brand can effectively utilise these actionable insights by sharing the information collected with their product managers who can then accommodate this feedback in their product research & development.

Start Laying the Foundation Blocks for Building your Community

Effective community management strategies ensure that your communities feel connected with your brands. They are assured that you are listening to them. They have a place to express their opinions, collaborate with other members, network and learn together.

Successful brands understand the importance of holding two-way conversations with their community members. Simply selling your ideas or products to your customers won’t help. You need to understand their needs and wants. Community management will help you to build brand loyalty, increase sales and even gain advocates for your brand.

Each community has its own traits. That’s what sets it apart from other communities. It is important to understand that what works for one might not work for another community. This is where technologies such as artificial intelligence, conversational messaging systems, data mining and predictive marketing can be used to supplement and automate the engagement processes of community managers.

So, get started by reviewing your options for the types of community strategies to incorporate for your brands. Develop your channels, and determine the tools and resources required to establish a vibrant community.