The importance of community building
I was in India last month and on a bit of a hiatus. Which is good news for readers of Marketing Mechanics because we have our first ever guest post!
Check out a new article below, by Mary Wieder. - Laurel
Why Good Marketing Still Needs a Strong Sense of Community
In today's digital age, building a strong community around your brand is more important than ever. With social media platforms and online forums, it's easier than ever to connect with your target audience and build a loyal following. But how can community building be used as a marketing strategy?
Let’s start with exactly what is meant by community.
It was once a term used to describe where people physically lived and how people within that “community” interacted. But the concept of a community has since evolved, and now comprises more intangible elements.
A community is still about people. Stanford University’s definition might best sum up the concept of a community today, “community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs.”
As markets today become oversaturated with competition and products and services have less of a niche in the market when it comes to their actual tangible offering, what will inevitably set companies apart?
What is Community Building?
Community building is the process of creating a group of like-minded individuals who share a common interest or passion. These individuals can be brought together through various channels, such as social media, email lists, forums, or events. By fostering a sense of community, brands can connect with their audience on a more personal level and build trust and loyalty.
Benefits of Community Building
There are many benefits to building a community around your brand. Here are some of the most significant:
Increased Engagement: A strong community can help boost engagement with your brand. By providing a platform for customers to share their experiences and connect with other like-minded individuals, you can create a more engaging and interactive brand experience.
Better Customer Insights: By building a community, you can gain valuable insights into your customers' needs, preferences, and behaviors. This information can be used to tailor your marketing efforts and improve your overall customer experience.
Improved Brand Loyalty: When customers feel like they are part of a community, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty towards your brand. This can lead to repeat business, positive reviews, and even referrals to friends and family.
Cost-Effective Marketing: Building a community can be a cost-effective way to market your brand. By leveraging social media and other online channels, you can reach a large audience without spending a lot of money on traditional advertising.
How to Build a Community Around Your Brand
Now that you understand the benefits of community building, how can you get started? Here are some tips:
Identify Your Audience: Before you can build a community, you need to identify your target audience. Who are your ideal customers, and what are their interests and needs? This information will help you create content and messaging that resonates with your audience.
Choose the Right Channels: There are many channels you can use to build a community, such as social media, email lists, and online forums. Choose the channels that are most relevant to your audience and focus your efforts there.
Create Valuable Content: To keep your community engaged, you need to provide them with valuable content. This can include blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media updates. The content should be informative, entertaining, and relevant to your audience.
Encourage Engagement: Encourage your community to engage with your brand by asking for feedback, responding to comments and messages, and hosting events or webinars.
Foster a Sense of Community: Finally, it's essential to foster a sense of community by creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. This can include highlighting community members and their achievements, recognizing milestones, and providing opportunities for members to connect with each other.
Most importantly, build a community that fosters a sense of security and belonging (remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?) among your members so that they will not want to abandon you. What happens when one leaves the community? They feel like an outcast, they feel they are no longer protected, they begin searching for a new sense of self-awareness.
The key to any community-building strategy, whether B2C or B2B or even non-profit, is to put PEOPLE at the heart of it.
Whether we clump people into target market groups or buyer personas profiles, customers are also simply people that want to be themselves, but as part of a larger community that promises protection, consistency, trust and a sense of belonging.
Apple is the classic example of successful community-building. For years, tech reviews have noted that other smartphone and tablet products are superior in terms of quality and functionality. Some are even more price effective. So why do users continuously stick with Apple? The community is so large today that many are afraid to make the switch. Their whole world, not just their products, are intertwined in the Apple community.
In conclusion, community building can be an effective marketing strategy for businesses of all sizes. By building a loyal following, you can improve engagement, gain valuable insights into your customers, and foster brand loyalty. With the right approach and a commitment to creating a strong community, you can set your brand up for long-term success.
About the author
Based in Italy, Mary is a senior marketing consultant who works internationally with clients in Europe and the United States. She is the founder of the M7 Social Project. Mary is a university lecturer, and the founder of the Verona Professional Women Networking non-profit organization. She is also Mom to two Italian-American boys, and an athlete.