With multiple social media outlets and a vast online marketplace, consumers have unprecedented access to information about companies, allowing them to make informed decisions about who to do business with. Consumers tend to put particular trust in—and therefore seek out—other consumers’ opinions.
This transparency can also work in the favour of a business, which can use the same media to share information and build a community around their brand. While it starts with a good product or service, there’s more to building a community than that. If a company works to reach out to its target audience through content, shared values, and stories, happy clients and customers may turn into faithful fans who spread the word and help the brand grow.
However, businesses may not always be sure of how to begin building this sense of loyalty and shared community with their current and potential audience.
To help create a community for your brand, here are 16 ways to build a strong brand community;
1. LISTEN TO THOSE YOU’RE TRYING TO REACH
The key is to find out who your audience is and appeal to them. Create momentum by writing about initiatives your company is launching that hinge on your mission. Build value and trust by engaging with your current customers—get active on social media and encourage feedback. Always listen to your customers and audience. It will shape your brand and help it continue to evolve.
2. MEET YOUR AUDIENCE WHERE THEY ARE
To successfully foster authentic connections, organisations must first get to know the community itself and establish a deep understanding of who their audience is and where to meet them.
3. POSITION YOUR CLIENTS AS THOUGHT LEADERS
Asking customers to broadcast their thoughts on social media, podcasts, blogs etc. allows them to feel like thought leaders. This would also allow you to make any adjustments that are wanted by your client base.
4. CO-CREATE A “SECRET LANGUAGE”
Use your brand, culture, and word choice consistently—extra points for verbs and proper nouns that include your company. The key to good co-creation means listening intently to your audience’s word choices, jokes, and phrases. When they start hearing their own words in your language, they know they belong.
5. DEVELOP A SOCIAL MISSION
Create a social mission for your company that aligns with a cause where there is an existing synergy. It should also be something you as a founder are truly passionate about. Commit to raising awareness on all platforms—the media, your company’s website, and both your and your business’s social media channels. Otherwise, the partnership will lack authenticity.
6. IDENTIFY YOUR SHARED PURPOSE
What makes us human is our ability to form communities to pursue a shared purpose. The more important that purpose, the stronger the group’s identity. Brands that connect to purpose create the ability to align with that sense of identity and create connection.
7. LET YOUR AUDIENCE BE PART OF YOUR BRAND DEVELOPMENT
Provide an open “uncensored” platform or be a part of a platform where your consumers gather. It’s critical that you define your purpose in the world and allow members of the community to actively ideate, criticise, and cheer on your brand. This gives them a way to measure your authenticity and rally around not only your product or service but your beliefs. Embrace their opinions.
8. HOME IN ON WHAT SETS YOU APART
The issue of building community is about inciting passion in users. Stoke passion and the community will follow. Be highly focused on your USP's and the benefits you provide to a highly defined target psychographic. Community builds around the passion of this core group.
9. LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU DID TO RESOLVE ISSUES
Really “hear” your community. All too often we cheer the great feedback and acknowledge the not-so-flattering comments with a standard “Thank you for sharing … we value your input.” How often do you circle back and inform the community what the company actually did to address their concerns? Showing meaningful actions that cost the company real money and not just words goes a long way.
10. CREATE AN AMBASSADOR PROGRAM
Ambassador programs are a great way to reward and incentivise early adopters. Ambassadors amplify your business in local markets, serve as strong sources of feedback, and build brand equity.
11. BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Brands need to be faithfully authentic about their identity and values. In the overstimulated world of social media that we live in, people have developed a keen sense for detecting what’s heartfelt and what’s superficial. Be true to your authentic self and your values if you want your community to be true to you.
12. FOSTER OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONNECTION
Building community is all about connections. Whether it’s a planned event or serendipitous moments, creating the opportunity to meet someone and the right environment in which to do so is how networks are built. It’s important to be authentic to your brand while putting your community first. The relationships that develop naturally will build stronger connections to other members and to your brand as well.
13. SHARE YOUR TEAM AND CLIENT STORIES
The best way to create a community is to share your stories—including client stories and employee-led stories—and do it in an authentic way. Your customers will appreciate that you celebrate their accomplishments and will respond with engagement. Focus on the impact your client is making by using your product. This allows you to engage with a community and elegantly promote your services.
14. SET UP ONLINE COMMUNITIES
To effectively create a community around your brand, you first need to provide a space for it to happen. Create private Facebook groups, start a Slack workspace, or build your own membership site. By creating an exclusive space for people to talk and fostering conversations, you’ll develop your community over time.
15. UNDERSTAND WHY YOUR BRAND EXISTS
Building a community starts with building a brand worth standing up for—a brand that understands why it exists, not just what it makes. A brand that appreciates its customers beyond the money they spend, recognising these customers propel the greater vision. When executed correctly, these brand attributes ring true and, in turn, are readily reciprocated by the brand’s growing community.
16. FOCUS ON SERVING EACH PERSON WELL
To create raving fans, you need to worry less about the broader community and instead focus your time on serving each person. Take care of your clients and the word will spread naturally.