There are so many ways to market a company. Some businesses spend millions on large-scale advertising campaigns. Others look to influencers to help market their products. However, there’s another way to market your company to new and existing customers. That’s by focusing on community marketing.
I’m going to give you a quick overview of community-based marketing. Next, you’ll learn about the benefits of creating a brand community. You’ll also find out tips to help your company form a winning community marketing strategy. Sound good? Let’s get started.
What is Community Marketing?
These days, it’s not hard for a consumer to get the information they need about a product or service. Before you buy almost anything, you can read reviews about it on websites, social media, and other online sources. The consumer is now more informed than ever before.
Because consumers have so much legitimate information at their fingertips, standard marketing methods aren’t reaching the average person like they used to. This situation led to the rise of community marketing. Community marketing means having a passionate group of people who support your brand.
The Benefits of Community Marketing
Before you start building a community, it’s good to know why this kind of group is so beneficial. As it turns out, good community marketing is more beneficial than you might think.
1. Lowers Your Advertising Spend
In Business 101, you learn that most companies need to market themselves to stay in business. With that said, you don’t have to spend a fortune on advertising and marketing. Community marketing can help ensure you have a powerful source of low-cost advertising.
2. Makes Customers Feel Involved
Take a moment to think about some of your favorite companies. Wouldn’t it be cool if they all personally interacted with you? Or if you felt like your voice as a customer really mattered? If you’re like most people, you’d love it if these things were true.
By having a brand community, you’re working to create community members and not just customers. With that in mind, reach out to your community for suggestions or feedback. By making your community feel involved, you have free opinions that some companies would pay a fortune for.
3. Works Well for Retaining Customers
Having a nice, constant stream of new customers is great. But keeping them? That’s a different story. According to Semrush, the average company in the United States loses 23 to 30% of its customers each year due to a lack of loyalty.
There are many ways to target new customers. However, a fast-growing number of companies are solving this problem through the strong relationships that come from community marketing. It’s typically hard for someone to want to leave a thriving community. A business with no active community involvement? That’s much easier to walk away from.
4. Social Proof
If you could peek into offices across the world, you’d probably hear the term “social proof” thrown around more than a few times. Social proof might sound like nothing but jargon. However, this concept happens to you all the time.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon. It occurs when people copy the actions of a group because this person believes that the group is right.
All kinds of companies use this concept. Rotten Tomatoes uses social proof to generate its score that you see everywhere. Amazon uses its star rating system to influence your purchasing decisions and trust.
Imagine you needed a new car and could choose from two automobile companies. Company A has a Facebook page with a lot of likes and many positive online reviews. Company B has a website. That’s it. Chances are, your brain will be telling you that you can trust Company A simply because so many others do.
Tips to Create a Killer Community Marketing Strategy
You’ve learned what makes a community marketing strategy so beneficial. Now, it’s time to teach you how your business can start its own community marketing efforts.
1. Choose Your Platforms
You don’t have to look far to see lots of websites and social media platforms for people to use. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, there’s no shortage of popular online destinations.
Before you start forming an online community, you need to know where they should meet. If not, you could have your current and potential customers all over the place. That’s not how you want to form a tight-knit community.
With a CRM tool or Google Analytics, it should be easy to get some basic information about your potential community members. You can even do something as easy as seeing where your company has the largest following on social media.
It’s critical to avoid overthinking this step. In time, your brand’s largest online communities will reveal themselves.
2. Be Involved
Building a great community involves making group members feel close to each other. To do that, you’ll need to create tight-knit associations between your company and its community. One of the best ways to do this is to be actively involved with this group of people.
This doesn’t mean letting people know about upcoming sales or urging them to buy something. True brand communities come from like-minded people coming together to share information. So, in this case, ditch the sales pitches and provide pure value to your audience.
3. Be Patient
One of the most important things to remember is that online communities don’t happen overnight. Whether you’re forming a new brand community or growing the one you have, either option will take time. Continue posting content and interacting with your group to increase community engagement.
4. Host Exclusive Contests
If you want to check out one of the most tried and true ways to build a brand community, try hosting a contest. Companies often use a contest as a way to generate online buzz. Considering the help your community members provide, why not host a contest just for them?
Most human beings are hard-wired to not mind completing short tasks. So, feel free to ask for a social media share or something as easy for group members to earn a contest entry.
5. Have an Offline Celebration
Who says your community strategy has to be 100% online? With the world opening back up, use this time to host an in-person meeting with your community. Sure, Facebook groups and message boards are great. But hosting physical events is a great way to show your community how much your company cares for them.
Sometimes, this marketing strategy is so effective that the members of your community begin forming smaller groups around your company. Brands like Jeep and Harley-Davidson have websites dedicated to group meetups. These meetings are beneficial for both communities and brands. The members get to spend time with people they enjoy being around, and the company gets a lot of free advertising in the process.
6. Share Their Content
As your community grows, your brand could soon gain something valuable: user-generated content. This isn’t content that you create. Instead, it’s free content that a company’s customers share throughout online communities.
If you’re getting this type of content, share it on your company’s digital content distribution platforms. Your community’s members will love seeing their content shared with the world. Plus, your brand might gain new customers after people see the popularity of your company’s products and services.
7. Reward Your Community
Who doesn’t love a good reward? One great way to do this is by giving your community points. Points can be exclusive perks that members of your community get for being so awesome. Take things one step further and assign points to certain actions, like sharing posts on social media or something similar.
Community marketing remains a great way for companies to form real connections with people. Your company’s community can provide feedback, improve your brand image, and much more. With some time and effort, your brand could soon have a community full of loyal fans.
Salman Zafar is an acclaimed blogger, editor, publisher and digital marketer. He is the founder of Blogging Hub, a digital publishing portal with wide following across the world.