Community Marketing – More than a buzzword for brand building

Community Marketing – More than a buzzword for brand building

Since the internet took off in unchartered consumer territories, engaging audiences on digital platforms has been the norm for brands across sectors. In time, social media platforms and influencers gained a strong foothold in digital space, birthing unconventional ways of collaborating with brands and calling it Social Media Marketing. However, away from the obvious scope of marketers and brand advocates, a steady and powerful mode of brand acceleration was taking shape – today, some of the fastest-growing brands are attributing high returns and low risk to the phenomenal results achieved by Community Marketing.

Well, brand communities and brand websites have always been an integral part of all marketing campaigns so, why care more now? Because there’s a shift in consumer behavior. Digital footprints are serious business and communities are crucial touchpoints to facilitate genuine connections and brand loyalty. Consumers tend to gather as a community (tribe) around a brand to interact, share experiences, and provide feedback. These digital connections are building brand impressions and are truly powerful in influencing consumers while contributing toward strengthening the brand identity.

 

Why Community Marketing is a better way to build a brand?

Bonding not Buying

Unlike traditional advertising that underlines the financial power of buying space, community marketing is connecting and engaging with audiences for long-term relationships. It encourages brand ownership where communities converse around brand offerings. Such engagement directly impacts customers where the current ones feel heard and the potential ones feel recognized and important. This digital space is a valuable connection for the brand as well as consumers. While the consumers benefit from the genuine and valuable information shared, the brand gains important social media mileage. The brand support created is valuable and almost impossible to recreate through any other means.

 

Cost efficiency

Tight budgets are every marketing team’s gripe. Hence tapping into community marketing is well aligned with the interests of the brands as well as communities because it does not rely on financial buying power. The members raise visibility by sharing information and genuine experiences.  Community members naturally share their needs and opinions, saving brands time and money on research. Brands receive valuable feedback, insights, customer information, and opinions through these activities and thereby build a community of eager, loyal customers – all for little or no cost. However, marketers must demonstrate the value of direct consumer engagement as today’s audiences are more discerning than ever about whom they share their valuable personal data with.

 

Value-adding engagement

Creating a vibrant community space that thrives on brand values and fostering connections is key here. Community building has to meet the needs of the moment. Brands must stay alert and active while being an integral part of the enthusiastic community. Ensuring direct access to brand representatives in that community space makes for a haven for customers. A word of caution is to not make this a one-way communication channel as it then isn’t a community experience.

 

Growing together

The term ‘community’ should be optimized in the real sense by connecting all avenues of the brand sphere. Introducing new members like brand stakeholders and other important employees from the organization, to the community allows an able approach. The audiences will always entertain different perspectives from advocates that are directly associated with the brand. The exchange, advice, and support established over conversations and engagement strengthens brand value and further establishes credibility. Never lose sight of the fact that community-based marketing is about focusing on sharing information and is not about selling. Be the first to share new features of your brand offerings like the launch of a new product. Engagement of such sorts shows that you value their support and strengthens the brand’s reputation.

 

Targeting the whole

Another aspect of community marketing is that it targets the whole and not a segment. They are there because they identify with the brand and earn the right to participate. It is an evolved mapping far from identifying consumers anchored around demographics. There’s a shared relevance, common interests, and values that bring them together on the platform. Therefore, brands must value such chosen ones that are ‘active’ in the community and look at nurturing them as brand influencers and ambassadors. By leading discussions, building memberships, and rewarding their contributions with special incentives; the community approach will articulate brand values like no other platform.

Community marketing bridges the gap between brands and audiences and must be leveraged to build strong connections and support. It has the potential to retain customers with ongoing engagement and can further build on a new customer base. By creating strong experiences and transparency in communication, community marketing goes a long way in promoting the brand.

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