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What is community building and how my company benefits from it?
You have probably seen them once, just like I did. Crowds of people who periodically cram the space at the glass stores that feature the iconic apple with a bite. Yes, they are camping in anticipation of the newest device. It instills an impressive example of how a whole community gets formed around a certain brand.
I would like to understand whether all companies can actively and effectively approach the process of a community building, whether all companies can do it successfully, what should be the purpose of all the activities involved, and how it is supposed to work.
A brand community is characterized as a group of like-minded customers who identify themselves with a certain brand and have common characteristics. They share their experiences about the brand. Some even think that community is a group of rightful owners of a brand.
There are various reasons to ask „why“. To build a community means to build a direct link between a company and its customers. It is a natural and simple way to continuously receive feedbacks and recommendations about your company’s products and services.
Essence of Community Building
Community building can be interpreted as a long-term way of bringing customers together. Way too often in our day-to-day business, however, it gets downplayed by the short-term promotion/sales support measures.
The increasing number of enterprises is coming to believe that to provide a platform where customers can share experiences and moderate content from within is a sustainable investment.
Brand Communities Figures and Facts
- According to a research by University of Innsbruck, two third of all the companies surveyed reported the positive influence of their brand communities on companies’ decisions.
- Almost 90% of the Fortune 500 companies report receiving more valuable and more detailed information about their customers and customers’ needs exactly due to the company brand communities.
- According to Oracle’s Report “Socially Driven Collaboration” community building activities should not be isolated from marketing on the whole. Actually, due to community building marketing can enjoy a tremendous boost
4 mistakes you better avoid while building a community
You are not authentic and you are complicated
In case your concept is not 100% unique you will face the lack of distinctive feature, those that make your customers remember you and tell their friends about you. The same equally applies to the structure of your community: if the whole community experience is riddled with complicated rules, it creates tension, something that your clients definitely won’t enjoy.
You are not consistent
Stay consistent with the frequency of your content delivery. In other words, be attentive to how often and even what dates you post something new in your community. When there is no consistent or recognizable pattern.
When there is no distinguished pattern of the content flow your community members will soon feel it as something superimposed and skin-deep.
You make advertisement instead of developing a community
Nowadays there are a lot of opportunities for businesses provided by online platform enabling you, for instance, to send instant automated notifications to your customers, while customers can always stay in touch with your news on products and services.
At the same time your community doesn’t have to necessarily revolve around your company. It is important to listen closely to and take seriously all the questions and needs of every individual within the community.
You ignore silence
What can you hear when you listen to what your community speaks about? Oh, they stopped speaking? When things go quiet it means the whole idea of engagement and commitment is failing and soon your community will stop growing or will start shrinking. Encourage your clients to share experiences, and come up with gamification and reward policies.
Community Building classification in the marketing context
Community Building in the overall marketing funnel
Analyzing the whole marketing funnel, all the activities that you implement to build your community are found in between the middle and the deeper part of the funnel.
The emphasis here is placed on the activities that are clear to the customers and help building loyalty to your brand where customers appreciate every detail about your product or service.
Immediate effect vs sustainability
Community building does not serve the purpose of quickly gaining new customers, it does not happen overnight, and it typically requires time and dedicated effort.
By this channel the reverberation effect is really high, resonating in the way that enables your community to enjoy a sustainable growth with every new customer.
Categorization in Channel-Portfolio
When you create your brand portfolio by the channels and campaigns, then all the steps of your brand community building will typically serve
its main purpose, which is to help your brand image seeds to mature in the minds of your customers.
In conjunction with the nets thrown and spears aimed with precision this channel works at its best.
4 underrated Tips and Hacks to build a robust customer community
Make your Community easily accessible
Whatever splendid your community was, if no one knows about its existence, you are out of the game. Consider developing more entry points to make it easy to get in the community and generate more leads.
Position your Community as a part of Customer Experience
Your community should be a natural extension of your total value proposition. Ponder on how to make the community function as a central feature, how to make this idea feel natural to your customers, and how to herewith bring your products and services closer to your customers.
Provide exclusive content
Customers feel encouraged to keep regularly and actively participating in the life of your product community when they find some exclusive content on your pages that they cannot find anywhere else.
Bonuses for especially active contributions
The most important step is to make customers communicate with each other because it allows getting a so much more precious insight later on. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to reward and encourage the most active contributors to the community. Just be creative.
Key indicators to look at while building a community
Various numbers can be estimated:
- total number
- new community members over the last month
- active vs. inactive members
Engagement in the Community
When we speak about landing a community in an existing social network you might want to measure the following:
- how many new likes it got over the last month
- how many commentaries
- how many new posts, events and topics were posted by the members
- how many were generated by you (as a Community Manager)
It makes sense to measure your website traffic: what your customers are doing on your site, on which web pages they leave your site.
In particular, the following figures are important to look at:
- total number of visitors
- new visitors vs. returning visitors
- visitors on the Homepage
- visitors on sign up/login page vs. new registrations
Creating a brand community makes it possible to prolong and enrich your clients’ unique customer experience by not confining it to mere making a purchase.
All the steps and activities for your community building mainly lie in the field from the middle of the funnel, where the marketing to sales hand-off happens, and down to the bottom of the marketing funnel; from measures that build company-client understanding to the point where a potential customer is converted into an actual customer who makes an actual purchase, and to measures directed at building customer loyalty.
The sequence of measures in building a community around brand and product is no hasty development. They do require time; however, those measures definitely pay off in the long run by providing a deep understanding and the ability to respond to your customers’ needs.
Where do we go from here? Look around once again, ― you might already appear to be a member of a certain community. Think what you particularly like about it, how it makes you feel, and apply your knowledge to building your own community.
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