The internet has drastically changed the way we interact with one another. In the past, building a brand required significant time, energy, and money. With the advent of social media, all of that has changed. Now, building a brand is as easy as creating an online presence and engaging with potential customers where they already are: on various online platforms and forums.
Online community-building in particular has become another tool in a marketer’s kit. In a study of the Reddit community, GlobalWebIndex found that 82% of online community members have a positive attitude to brands participating in their respective communities. This marks online communities as fertile ground for growing a receptive audience and market.
Online communities provide an intimate environment in which customers can get to know your brand on a personal level. Brands like Sephora, Harley Davidson, and Airbnb are prime examples of companies that have invested in creating vibrant online communities that have a direct impact on their sales.
These platforms are also great for developing long-term relationships with customers and fostering loyalty. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to use online communities for brand-building.
Find out where your potential customers congregate online
The first step is to find out where your potential customers spend their time online. This will require some research on your part. You can start by taking a look at social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see if there are any groups or forums related to your industry.
You can also look into who the influencers of the community are and trace their presence across different channels– always a good way to determine where the users are present. Once you’ve identified a few possible online communities, it’s time to start engaging.
When you have a developed community and see the opportunity to provide additional channels, you may also want to consider creating your own online community platform. Some brands have met success by putting up their own platforms. Lego Ideas, for example, is Lego’s way of giving users a chance to showcase their creations on official channels and participate in contests and community events.
Start engaging with potential customers on their level
Remember, the goal is to build relationships with potential customers. In order to do that, you need to meet them where they are and engage with them on their level. This means joining in on conversations, answering questions, and offering helpful advice—without being too pushy about your product or service.
Never promote your brand directly. Engage in the topics being discussed, be active, and be helpful. The goal is to build trust and credibility. When people see that you’re an expert on the subject, they’ll be more likely to come to you when they’re ready to purchase.
Think of it as digital word-of-mouth marketing; if you build trust with potential customers and establish yourself as an authority figure, they’re more likely to do business with you down the line.
Use online communities as a way to create loyalty among existing customers
Fostering loyalty among existing customers is just as important as winning over new ones. Fortunately, online communities offer the perfect platform for doing just that. Use these forums to show existing customers that you value their business and are always working to improve the quality of your product or service. This will help strengthen the relationship between customer and brand, ensuring that they remain loyal even when faced with competing options.
In a study of online communities conducted in 2020 in Taiwan, researchers found that community members valued two things: social factors (“bridging social capital,” as the study called it) and having a resource for information about their interests (“completeness of information”). As long as you make sure that your community provides both, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong online presence and forging loyal customers and brand advocates.
By Building an Online Community, You Can Take Your Brand-Building Efforts to the Next Level
The internet has drastically changed the way we interact with one another—and that includes how we build brands. In the past, it took significant time, energy, and money to develop a strong presence in the market. However, social media has made it easier than ever before for brands to connect with potential customers from all over the world.
By engaging directly with potential customers on these forums, you can start developing relationships that could lead to conversions down the line. And by fostering loyalty among existing customers, you can ensure that they remain loyal even when faced with competing options. If you’re not already using online communities as part of your brand-building strategy, now is the time to start.