Community is important to consumers.
A strong motivation for community membership peoples’ desire to interact with like-minded others. Gives people a sense of their authentic “true selves” as they feel a sense of belonging with the others in the community and believing in a common set of values. Having an experience of kinship and belong to a group, tribe, or community. Humans have a desire to be a recognized member of a community.
A sense of being ‘one’ is influential in the formation and maintenance of consumption communities.
Temporary communities such as those at concerts or those on a rafting trip are examples of extraordinary experiences in which participants experience strong bonds with other members.
Not all businesses are able to create a physical “extraordinary experience” for community members. But if it is possible, it is something to consider how you can do this.
Individuals can have a number of motivations for taking part in communities – some are looking for emotional support and encouragement, and others are just gathering information about a certain topic and have no desire to connect with people.
This blog is a portion of the week’s content for Community.
What is community?
A community is a group of people that have a characteristic in common. The common characteristic could be having a certain interest – e.g. a favourite band, or a brand, it could be a geographical area.
Members of the community are committed to a set of shared values, and meanings. Three criteria of a community are locality, social interaction, and a social bond.
· Locality proves that the community is based upon a certain region that differentiates it from other communities.
· Social interaction refers to the means of relationship building among community members.
· Bond comes from the fact that membership in the community gives its member a feeling of comfort and a sense of belonging.
Members of a subculture must believe in a common set of values (Schouten & McAlexander, 1995).
How community has evolved
In the age of the Internet, we are more connected as a human race than we ever have been before, people’s desire for social interaction and information has formed new social phenomena such as online communities. Communities on-line are quite different from those in the physical world.
Traditional boundaries have changed, and now you can get to know someone intimately online and feel like you have a strong bond with that person, even though you may have never met face-to-face. Participation in communities is also now a voluntary pursuit, while traditionally, geographical factors restrict community memberships.
Every community has frameworks, ideas, stories, experiences, lessons learned, and documents that community members share
Why community is important to marketers
Social networks are everywhere online and given the capability of technology for a low cost to businesses, it seems like a logical tool that brands can use. A community-based brand builds loyalty not by driving sales, but by helping people meet their needs. Community commitment increases brand loyalty.
If you have a strong brand community, you will have a strong brand. Customers expressing their who they are through your brand, because of their membership in your community is the goal.
Brand community members are important to brands as they buy more, and they are loyal. So, their marketing & lead generation cost is reduced. As members seek kinship, they adopt the “branded lifestyle” more and more to fit into the community and project a desired social identity. For new members of the subculture, brands act as a signal or ticket for group membership. Thus, brands with iconic connections to the community are adopted by new members to interact with the group.
It is important to research the best approach for your business and customers, given the amount of options, it is easy to invest in the wrong areas. You also risk investing in something that just ends up being market research, and not a genuine community where people connect and interact. They help people find solutions to their problems.
Marketers can find benefit in paying “attention to conditions that foster relational bonds leading to reliable repeat business.”
Creating a brand community is a tactic of relationship marketing, which is marketing activities that attract, develop, maintain, and enhance customer relationships (Grönroos, 1994).
Don’t over-manage your community – Conflict is Passion
Brand communities largely focus on the unifying characteristics of the community, but it is also important to embrace conflict amongst members. Communities and brands tend to avoid conflict, but it is important not to excessively control with community management. Do not put corporate interests over those of their customers. brand communities generate more value when companies create conditions in which communities can thrive, but members control them.
Communities are fundamentally political, “In-groups” need “out-groups” to define themselves.
Not everyone in the community will agree with each other, and brand communities thrive on conflict and contrast. Embrace the inner conflicts of your communities and it will thrive. Create a sense of contrast, conflict, and boundaries. For example, when a customer in the Apple community buys a Samsung product, they would be shunned into the out-group and alienated from the group. Similarly, PlayStation fans do not like Xbox fans.
Not everyone will value social interaction, or all care strongly about one certain cause. Each community will have its own norms and expectations and conflict based on these.