Digital brand communities were popular before 2020, but they're gaining a more informal and authentic edge in 2020. With digital-first connections becoming the norm at the intersection of increasing data security laws, brands are having to get creative with engaging their audiences. Ultimately, opt-in connections and engagements are critical.This is why creating a digital community around your brand is now an essential approach in maintaining and growing your online presence, generating more leads, and growing your revenue. In fact, more than 70% of marketers now agree that building a community is more important than direct sales. In crowded digital channels and limited budgets, these four ways to build community will help you launch or revamp your community initiatives in 2020.
1. Have A Valuable Presence and Communicate Your Value
The most important principle to understand is that people are only going to join your digital community when they perceive they’ll get some kind of benefit (value) in doing so. This is the fact we must first embrace. Some brands fail in building their digital community because they simply don’t provide enough value for their audience. However, some others simply fail to communicate their value. This doesn’t have to be really big and complex. You can start by sharing content that can help your audience according to their needs. For example, the Michelin guide was primarily created as a way to inspire people to drive more and use Michelin tires – but it adds a lot of value to each customer. Now, with social and digital channels, that can be a two-way conversation. Don’t forget to let your community members interact with each other, and not only with your brand. The key here is consistency. Build online credibility and authority for your business by constantly publishing relevant and valuable content for your audience. If you can consistently help your audience by solving their problems or teaching them actionable tips, then they’ll trust you more. Remember that authority in any niche is not only about the number of followers you have, but about trust.
2. Pick a Niche and Go Deep, Not Broad
When building your online presence and especially social media presence, it’s easy to be tempted in taking a broad approach. That is, many of us made the mistake of creating and pushing too many different types of content, which can easily confuse our audience.
Instead, it’s better to find a niche and even micro-niche you are really good at, and go deep with it. Brands like Alo Yoga have created a vibrant community around yoga and fitness – which has led to a 293% increase in their average visitors' time on site.
The key is to find just a cluster of people who want to communicate in your community for a more specific purpose and go deep in engaging with them by pushing the content they need. The depth of engagement is, especially in the early days of your community, more important than simply looking and followers growth and how many people interact with your brand.
3. Make It As Easy As Possible For People to Join Your Community
A common cause why your community isn’t growing as desired is because it’s not too obvious and easy for people to join your community. You should make this process as easy and accessible for your audience, to maximize the results by following these tips:
- Use modern tools that are designed with user-experience in mind so that your customers can engage easily.
- Make sure it’s easy to find your social media profiles for example by adding big enough badges and buttons on your site.
- If there’s a membership program on your site, make sure it’s easy to register and login on your site.
- Make sure your users can easily edit their information and make changes to the payment settings.
Obviously, these are not the only features to implement, but the same principle can be applied anywhere: make sure it’s easy and obvious to enjoy your community, and also give them easy ways to leave when they want (it’s perfectly okay, rather than getting backlash in the future). Ultimately, design it with user-experience in mind.
4. Inspire Emotional Connections
The best way to build your digital community is to build brand loyalty or even better, brand advocacy. With an engaged community, your users might submit user-generated content unsolicited, which is often a great endorsement for the brand. With their permission, this is a great opportunity to share this content across other channels to build more brand advocates.
Think of brand communities as exclusive clubs with a very specific but also very engaged audience. They're a modern focus group for your brand, and if managed correctly, they can pay dividends for your content strategy.
A strong brand community will mean that you possess a loyal organic ecosystem that you can leverage in many different ways. By creating enough demand within your community, you will have a sustainable customer base that is eager to buy, anytime you launch a new product or service. Also, you’d have a great source of data for your market research.
The key to fostering a strong digital community is to establish credibility and build a sense of trust with your audience, which will also improve your customer retention.
Mike Khorev is an SEO expert and digital marketing consultant who helps small and mid-size businesses generate more leads, sales, and grow revenue online. He offers expert advice on marketing your company the right way through performance-based SEO digital marketing, web design, social media, search engine marketing, and many other online practices.