Customers feel the growing need for online socializing, especially when most of us are staying at home during the lockdown. The power of community marketing is rising amidst social distancing in the offline world.
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic” – Seth Godin
What does everyone really need today? This question feels sharper especially now, when the majority of people are at home, face-to-face with a coronavirus lockdown. We start realizing the value of the community even more…
Modern customers aren’t looking for only products or services. They are seeking authentic human connections to revitalize themselves as social beings. Marketing is about how to approach customers, engage them, and suggest solutions that match their needs. Creating a brand community is the way you can address the customer’s most actual needs for socialization and feeling of belonging that gained even greater significance during the lockdown.
Why is a brand community the most fertile soil for post-pandemic marketing? Why is social influencer marketing the best practice for building a friendship with customers? And why do we really need to interact with others? Keep on reading to join our discussion about it.
1 – The Being. 2 – Beings. 3 – “The Beings’ Community.” What Is The Community Indeed?
- Source: Airbnb
First of all, “the community” is the most ancient concept we could ever imagine. Although “the brand community” is quite a novel term, “the community” itself has existed since times immemorial. Since the Earth has started rolling around the Sun, humans have been building communities. It’s our natural need and the primary condition for our comfortable existence.
Researchers usually describe a brand community as the one defined by three markers:
- The consciousness of kind – an understanding that people in a community are connected together and that they are different from outsiders.
- Rituals and traditions – specific acts and behaviors that make the community’s culture and meaning.
- Sense of obligation to the community – a sense of moral responsibility that motivates people to serve each other.
Consequently, community marketing is the brand’s connection to a specific community of like-minded people through a certain platform, fostering the value exchange between all community members, and watering insiders’ connections by regularly publishing the relevant content. The brand’s role in the community is simple yet crucial: supporting and watching the members for compliance with the community’s culture.
The Sunset of Ads, The Dawn of Community and Influencer Marketing
- Source: YouTube
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, “84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.” Community marketing and influencer marketing, as its logical continuation and complementation, are the two powerful practices that help brands treat customers as humans, not only as of the number of conversions.
The sunset of ads. Traditional ads don’t work anymore (until they are so creative that they don’t even hint at ads). Modern society experiences boredom from product sales pitches. We are mostly tired of advertising. Yes, it still works. However, is it really the most promising source of leads and sales today? Speaking subjectively and considering only my marketing experience as the evidence?—?it’s not. Where is the future? It’s likely in community and influencer marketing.
The rise of community marketing. The brand community is the tribe that loves listening and sharing ideas. There is always “a tribune” for the one who speaks the Idea and shares the Opinion with others. This person might be everyone within the community, including the brand itself or an average member.
Influencer marketing as a logical continuation. The Idea or Opinion seeps into the community’s mind faster when told by the authority whose voice matters as within the community, as beyond it. We’re talking about the Influencer. People love influencers because they find the reflections of themselves in what the Influencer makes or says. They trust influencers because they are pro at what they do, they know the subject inside-out, and they can share valuable advice regarding it.
The wise combination of brand community marketing and influencer marketing is the explosive mixture for customer engagement and loyalty, resulting in higher conversion and customer retention rates. What converts today is the authentic human connection, and influencer marketing incorporated into the brand community provides it. An excellent example is a video by Vince Lia, the owner of White Castle (a regional hamburger restaurant chain), featuring the feedback of the famous social media influencer Casey Neistat.
The challenge is finding the right Influencer for your tribe. An intelligent influencer marketing automation tool like SocialBook may help you do it faster and without extra-effort. Meanwhile, you can focus on producing great content to water the tree of social connections in your community.
How to Build a Favourable Environment for a Self-Growing Brand Community
Considering all the above-mentioned, community marketing is just the brand’s membering in its own community and creating favorable conditions for its existence. Here I share a few useful tips crystallized over the years in digital marketing and community marketing, in particular.
Just pour the oil and spark the fire. Let the story begin by itself
Approach the community as the holistic organism, and the information (or let say “content”) as the alive substance nourishing it. Your marketing just needs to support your community with the right content. Let the community consume it, process it, and reflect back to you with feedback.
Produce the content that initiates discussions, encourages sharings, pushes the community’s boundaries, sounds paradoxical, or even controversial. Do everything to make them speak about it, discuss it, laugh at it, comment on it, and tell their friends about it. Of course, the content shouldn’t sound offensive or impolite to anyone. However, it should have the needed spices to spark the fire of social discussions around your brand. It will lead to increased interest in a company and can even boom conversions.
Build a community around feelings, fun, and interests. Not around products
Talking about the content, it’s worth mentioning that you should not build your community around the product-pitching content but around the one that reflects customer emotions, passions, and the feeling of validation. Yes, your product or services might be unobtrusively mentioned there. However, keep in mind that the customer drives should be at the center of the stage.
- Source: Medium
Let them express passion and have it reflected back through a relationship with your brand
While we’re alive, we’re driven by passions. It may be a passion for food, sports, dancing, music, profession, etc. People build communities around the passions they share. Creating a similar community around your target audience’s passions is a big and amazing opportunity for the brand to enter the customer’s trust circle and simply give them what they need.
- Source: Nike
Give customers a feeling of belonging to the community of like-minders
Explore target users’ social profiles and audience analytics. Get into their way of thinking and lifestyle, understand their intrinsic motivations, and produce the content that mirrors them. Let your followers know that your brand shares and supports their values. Let them feel that they’re in the right place, in the community of like-minders.
- Source: Bikerumor
Let your community co-create your brand story
A great brand story is told by the community, not by the brand itself. Since the brand foundation, there is always a tribe of followers supporting it. It might be small or big. However, it is still the community that co-creates a brand story and is an essential part of it.
They contribute to your brand’s image and deserve to be mentioned in your content. Message your community with these thoughts in mind when producing content for the social, blog, or other marketing channels. Leverage the power of user-generated content and feature your followers’ achievements to fuel the community’s engine.
Customer buying decisions are the reflections of their identities and communities they belong to
It’s the last but not least principle you should keep in mind when running community and influencer marketing. If you aim to grow conversions, just remember that modern customers don’t buy products or services, but “relations, stories, and magic” around them, according to Seth Godin. They “buy” experiences they want to be involved in and the feeling of belonging to something amazing and bigger than every one of us. You, as a brand, can create it for them, and community marketing is a good start to this exciting human-brand interaction.
I hope that these tips will help you find the right approach to your customers’ hearts, refresh your social media presence, and build a tight-knit community around your company.