Marketing strategies exist to let businesses promote their products and services to their target audience. It sets a clear action plan on how to reach out to potential customers and eventually get them to try a product or service.
For a business to succeed, it needs an effective marketing strategy that will attract new customers while keeping existing customers coming back.
In this new era of online communities and social media marketing, a new type of marketing strategy has emerged that brings community members together while promoting a product or service.
This is in the form of community marketing. This revolutionary marketing strategy continues to take the internet and businesses by storm.
What makes a community?
To put it simply, a community is a group of people who have similar interests. Aside from interests, a community is about sharing the same values and this sets a feeling of belonging.
It is ultimately a safe space where people can engage with one another, share their thoughts and insights, and form special connections.
Nowadays, a community is not only formed in-person but can also be established online. While many might think that tight-knit associations can’t be formed in an online community, they can’t be any more wrong with that assumption.
Strong relationships continue to manifest in different platforms.
For example, a number of Facebook groups have actually started popping up just to provide emotional support and encouragement for people who are struggling in various aspects of their lives. The power and comfort a community can offer is like no other.
What is a community marketing strategy?
Now that you’ve gotten an idea of what a community is and what makes it a great basis to promote your product or service, continue to read on.
Community Marketing is all about gathering your customers together and encouraging engagement by introducing a topic they can all relate to.
People are social beings so they will naturally lean toward other people who are also interested and knowledgeable about the things they are passionate about.
This marketing strategy is focused on making your customers feel recognized and heard without the hard-sell and intrusiveness of other marketing strategies.
After all, you have to admit, times are changing and customer sentiment and customer experience can make or break the reputation of your product or service.
What is a brand community?
To start with community marketing, you have to solidify your brand. This ensures that you get customers who can support the brand and interact with their fellow supporters. Of course, these customers can also form a deep connection with your brand itself.
To do that, you need to have a unique value proposition or UVP. Your UVP is what’s going to set you apart from other competitor brands. You can talk about the benefits your customers can get from your brand and how it solves a particular set of needs.
You will know that your brand has a thriving community when its members are passionate and speaks enthusiastically about it. You will also observe that even when you aren’t engaging, the members remain active in online forums and platforms.
Brand communities work because people are able to relate to them and their advocacies while forming and solidifying meaningful relationships with other community members.
A specific brand can gather thousands to millions of members in the community. Some successful community marketing examples would be LEGO, Starbucks, Reddit, and Nike.
Building your brand community requires grit and consistency. But if you’re ready to boost your brand and inspire others then you’re on the right track!
Read: Build your positive online reputation with Reddit brand mentions
How to grow your business with community members
An effective community marketing strategy balances engagement, knowledge sharing, and brand promoting.
You don’t want to just shove your brand directly to your customers. Below is a list of the best community marketing strategies you can implement:
Forge genuine connections
With a lot of things occupying people’s minds in this age of information, some just really want to form genuine human connections.
Whenever a new customer joins the community, making them feel welcome is a crucial step. You can give a welcome message or a newsletter announcing to the rest of the community that a new member has arrived.
Show that you’re also interested in knowing your brand community members better by asking questions about why they decided to join the community.
In addition, you can also gather feedback to show your customers that your brand is always aiming for quality.
To establish a more loyal customer base, you can contribute to the personal growth of your members by sharing pieces of knowledge.
As the marketing manager, you are the expert in the field and you want your loyal customers to gain as much value from your brand.
You can maximize the digital platforms you have by organizing a focus group discussion about a particular topic related to your brand, publishing educational articles or blog posts and providing tips in forums or other social media platforms.
Establish brand advocates
Many successful businesses boom thanks to word-of-mouth marketing. People who try out products and services receive recommendations from their trusted family members or friends.
Instead of going for expensive paid advertising, tapping into your dedicated customers is a much better option.
Engaging with the known influencers in your community can be a mutually beneficial endeavor. These community marketers can engage with their fellow members positively, help you release user-generated content, and build trust within the community.
In return, they can receive exclusive perks like early access to new releases or discounts on certain products and services.
The weight of building your brand advocacy doesn’t have to rest all on your shoulders. Receiving help from your very own pool of current customers is an effective community marketing strategy.
Hold and partake in events
Hosting events can increase engagement in your community and increase brand loyalty. After all, there is only so much releasing articles and partaking in online forums can do.
These community events for your niche audience can come in the form of physical events like mini gatherings and or virtual events like Zoom parties and panel discussions.
Hosting and attending these events will allow you to get to know your community members better and vice versa.
You can talk about the launch of a new product or service and promote it through easy-access store links and social media platforms. After these events, your community engagement will increase and so will your new customers.
The benefits of implementing community marketing
If you still have doubts about whether community based marketing is for you, here are some of the benefits you can get from investing in relationship building:
Positive customer experience
Since you are giving your customers a voice and a dedicated platform where they engage other community members and give feedback, you can efficiently deliver a positive experience.
Your engagement with your customers and their insight about both the brand and the business’ marketing professionals can give you a better idea of understanding your customers and their needs.
This will also help you retain more customers and create tight-knit associations. Any form of complaint or feedback you receive should also be taken seriously to strengthen your community infrastructure.
Help create long term relationships
Each community strategy above will help you foster long-term relationships amongst you, your brand, and your members.
Your consistency when it comes to holding local events, engaging in forums, answering questions, and sharing knowledge will help you build relationships that last.
The emotional support that your members will also receive from the local community can also help them personally and in many ways you can imagine.
Establish a loyal customer base
Good community marketing results in a loyal customer base. It’s beneficial for you and the business because you can get a steady stream of profits and on the other hand, your customers are happy and satisfied.
However, building community sense is not just about marketing newsletters, emails, and loyalty programs. You have to make sure that you empower your existing community instead of abusing their loyalty.
How community marketing can grow your business
Marketing strategies are evolving as we see new technology and social platforms appear changing consumer behavior faster than ever.
In the digital age filled with content, data, and audience targeting, breaking through the noise is much harder and much more expensive.
We are seeing two major shifts:
- Businesses are getting sucked into having to play bidding games for keywords and ads while
- Consumers are overloaded with and disengaged from ads they don’t watch
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, “84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.”
This signals to us that customers look for not just a great product but also an authentic human connection with both the brand and its community of customers. In today’s reality, their buying decisions are reflections of their identities as well as the communities they belong to.
This new connection between customers and brands makes community-based marketing a crucial component of a successful marketing strategy.
It is becoming more effective as customers are losing trust in many standard marketing practices like paid advertising and influencer promotions that brands used to rely on (only 4% of people trust influencers on social media).
So what is community marketing?
Community marketing is a brand growth strategy based on bringing customers together over a topic that is aligned with, or directly related to, a brand in an engaging and non-intrusive way that puts customers first.
Building a community around your brand is one of the best ways to give customers value at every stage of their journey. And it can be used for B2C and B2B audiences and focuses on a value exchange that helps them achieve the common goal.
A community can be defined as a space where people share like-minded values and interests, and feel connected or belong. Space, importantly for marketers, is more of an abstract idea of a shared environment – it can be online (Subreddit, Discord channel), or offline (office, meetup).
The three main types of communities
Community of Product
- Is driven by the brand’s product.
- Community members share product tips, report bugs, share product/feature ideas, or connect with the support team.
- The value being exchanged is: a shared interest in the product, the need for faster issue resolutions related to the product use.
- The value brand gets is: direct feedback for better product-market fit, new ideas for features/products, an opportunity for growing customer loyalty and ambassador programs.
- Example: Apple and its Support Platform, Sephora’s Beauty Insiders, Twilio’s Champions program, or Salesforce Trailblazers.
Community of Practice
- Is driven by a common interest or learning goal.
- Community members look for educational information and resources, exchange notes and learnings in a specific field.
- The value community members get is: a trusted resource within the focus niche, a go-to network of peers and experts.
- The value brand gets is: the opportunity to educate the target audience, position the brand as a thought leader in the space, and opportunities to sell product/services.
- Example: SproutSocial and Later publish valuable information about social media marketing, best practices, and latest updates and often include how their own product can assist SMM goals.
Community of Play
- Is driven by a fun activity (gaming, sport, arts, etc.).
- Community members look for activities that require a crowd like finding others to play games with, discovering hacks to level up, or even placing sporting bets.
- The value community members get is: bonding over niche interests, which may not be focused on one singular product but rather a product genre such as AR video games, traveling, or fashion.
- The value brand gets is: engaged audience to sell/cross-sell to, opportunities for loyalty programs, tester/focus groups, and many more. This type of community is well positioned to be a collaboration among a number of brands.
- Example: The metaverse – users can connect with brands and each other in new and exciting ways. Communities around NFTs are another good example.
Brand communities are powerful because they tap into the social and emotional needs of human beings. They create tight-knit associations between a person’s identity and the brands they choose to support.
And as a result, these brands are capable of design better products, and increase overall customer lifetime value. Community marketing bring brand growth and customer advocacy opportunities.
Start your community marketing journey today!
The marketing community continues to find ways to engage customers while maintaining businesses.
Times are changing and community marketing efforts have proven themselves to be one of the best modern marketing strategies today.
Admittedly, building communities can be painstakingly hard especially if it’s your first time. Surrounding yourself with a team of experienced individuals can ease the process and will help you learn along the way.
If your mind is set, check out SOAR’s Community Marketing Services. With our dedicated team, we will help you research, form a strategy, create content, and assist you with monitoring and evaluating your campaigns.
Call us now and we’ll help your brand grow and give it the success it deserves!