Create a Community Around Your Brand
A lot of challenges face brands today. In the past, brands relied on traditional media to broadcast their message – it was a monologue, where most marketers were simply intent on getting their message out there to be viewed by as many people as possible. But times have changed, and consumers aren’t easy to convince anymore. The key to getting them now is through engagement and conversation, not through marketing and advertising.
Consumers of today aren’t passive followers who simply accept what they see or hear – they have become active participants who share their thoughts and opinions about brands. They now have a voice instead of simply absorbing what you want them to hear. They are doing their research, asking questions, making suggestions, doling out criticisms, and so many more.
Having an online presence has become essential for brands, because this is where most consumers are now spending most of their time. You want to make sure that when people search for your brand, they’re going to get good information about it, whether it’s from your company website, your blog, or even your social media pages.
You also want to create a community around your brand, so that people can talk about it, share their views, and even make suggestions to help improve your offerings. This is the best way to get the buzz going about your brand, since the more people talking about your products and services, the better for your sales.
How exactly do you create a brand community? Here are some tips:
1. Focus on giving your audience value
If you want people to join and participate in the community you create, you need to focus on giving them value. You want them to enjoy being part of this community, as they share their thoughts, opinions, make friends with other members of the community, laugh, get support, and feel valued in their participation. Remember that communities aren’t passive and stagnant – they’re active and dynamic. They continually evolve, so you have to ensure that you adapt to what the community wants and needs. You don’t want your consumers to participate once or twice and then forget about your brand altogether. You want them to keep coming back to the community because it’s where they feel that their voice is heard and where they have an audience for their thoughts and opinions.
2. Provide the platform, but let the community grow dynamically together
Though it’s important that you give your community an excellent platform for them to share their views and converse with other members, such as a Facebook company page or a forum in your website, it’s even more important to let the community grow dynamically by itself, without you enforcing too many rules and regulations that can stifle the sharing of ideas and thoughts, or worse, forcing them into roles that they don’t really like.
The key here is to lead them – set the policies that govern the community, then let go of your control. When you control too many of your members’ activities, then they will soon resent you and look someplace else where they feel more appreciated. Honestly, when you create a great brand community, it will actually govern itself – this is because you’ll have a loyal following who would be willing to answer questions, defend your brand, and go the extra mile for you.
3. Empower your brand advocates/evangelists
In your community, there will be people whom you will see are incredibly loyal to your brand, who are very much passionate about it, and who have become the leaders in influencing others regarding your brand. These are the people you need to empower, to encourage their continued participation. Reward their efforts by gaining their trust, sincerely appreciating what they do, and even rewarding them through special thanks and gifts. The worst thing you can do is ignore them and make all their efforts in vain.
4. Be open to your community’s feedback and suggestions
In addition to being able to share their thoughts and feelings with other members, your community wants to be heard by you. They are participating in the community because they want their voice to be heard – they want to help you improve the system you have in place so that they can get more value from the products and services you offer. So make sure that you’re listening to your community’s feedback and suggestions, and if you can, try to apply them. You never know how invaluable their ideas could become to your brand.
It may sound challenging, but applying these principles will help you build an excellent community around your brand that will have people talking and spreading the word about your company and what it offers. The focus today is on your audience, so make sure that their voice is heard.