Building a brand community is one of the best ways to activate loyal customers to interact with your brand in an organic, personalized way. Communities are a source of connection, and in a world where people are feeling less connected physically, brands now need to establish that sense of connection digitally by building community online.
Online communities help brands make customer-driven decisions, while also giving customers a sense of recognition when their feedback or opinions are included in those brand decisions.
72% percent of Americans say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their values. What better way to understand what your customers really value than creating a community where they can share their own voice? Cultivating a community helps to create and sustain brand loyalty in an authentic manner by tapping into those who have an emotional connection to your brand and want to interact with other like minded individuals. Building a digital community allows any brand to spread awareness and build loyalty in a low cost manner. It breaks down barriers and allows customers to feel the emotional connection to a brand.
Here are a few ways to build and connect with your brand community — entirely online.
Build An Ambassador Community
One way to discover and build a brand community is through the creation of an ambassador program. Ambassadors have the power to change perceptions and convert non-users because of their influence within their own community both online and in person. Society proves again and again that people trust people. At the end of the day, potential customers are not turning to advertisements to decide whether or not to purchase, they are turning to their friends. Only 33 percent of buyers trust the brand whilst 90 percent of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know. This means potential customers rely heavily on word of mouth marketing, one of the most powerful ways ambassador communities thrive. Beauty company Benefit Cosmetics built an ambassador community “Benefit Club Pink,” to build their online community and promote the brand in an authentic manner. Club Pink members are given challenges to complete via a variety of social channels and rewarded based on frequency and engagement. When finding ambassadors, Benefit had the foresight to tap into the market of micro influencers to initiate brand conversation into smaller communities. Ambassador programs have the ability to transform word of mouth marketing for any brand, allowing for a natural brand community to thrive.
Tap Into Your Community On Social Media
Another way to build community online is by tapping into social media as an asset that extends beyond likes and comments. Odds are, a community of brand fanatics already exists on social media, however, as a company you need to find that community and capitalize on it. One way to organize posts being created that feature your brand’s products or services is by creating a unique brand hashtag. Skincare company Versed, encourages customers to tag Versed in the picture and use #WellVersed in the caption to add user-generated content to their own brand feed and create a greater sense of trust and authenticity. Brands can also discover potential ambassadors and advocates through user generated content challenges on social media. Reward your favorite posts with exclusive branded merchandise, new product launches, reposts, or promo codes to incentivize creativity.
Create A Loyalty Program
Lastly, brands can begin loyalty programs to tap into dedicated customers and encourage repeat purchasing. The more a customer visits your store, whether in person or online, the more likely they are to feel an emotional connection to your brand. Starbucks has mastered the art of the loyalty program for its valued customers. Their coffee enthusiasts simply need to download the Starbucks app and make sure to scan their personal code upon every purchase. With each purchase, customers receive points with reward thresholds at certain levels. The incentivizes customers to purchase more frequently, as the more they purchase, the better the rewards.
Building a brand community online means harnessing the power of your loyal customers to acquire new customers, promote a positive brand image, and create a personalized brand experience. Online communities assist in bringing a more human and authentic approach to your marketing strategy, and generate higher ROI and growth in key marketing KPIs across the board.