Communities are all around us. They have been the cornerstone of what makes our society grow, however, insights into their inner workings have been thoughtlessly ignored. Community building
is the key to building long term brand loyalty and the ever-elusive, authentic word-of-mouth. What more could you want?
What Is ”Community Marketing”
Building Brand Communities
Community marketing is building a brand community based on your organization’s timeless passions and actively leading the tribe. By bringing this concept to light and encouraging our society to foster community again, we allow ourselves to effectively build stronger, more authentic, and more trustworthy bonds with our members and, as a result, with our greater communities.
By being constantly engaged with their community, brands have the opportunity to better understand their community through what we call community marketing
. Brands can innovate — clearly, concisely and on beat — with their community which otherwise would be elusive since communities are organic and ever-evolving.
According to Nielsen
, adults (+18) spend 25 hours online and 5.5 hours on social media every week. Surprisingly, however, the heavy social media users aren't Millennials. Generation X (ages 35-49) spends the most time on social media with almost 7 hours per week; Millennials on the other hand, come in second spending just over 6 hours per week.
There's no debate that online interaction has become an important part of our lives that can take up a good portion of our time. Communities have followed suit and have thus begun utilizing online forums to continue the conversation and reinforce their relationships. Overtaking the dynamics of more traditional communities, such online correspondence allows communities to be formed outside of a geographic location at a more efficient rate.
How does this relate to other marketing strategies?
What converts is what other marketing initiatives have been trying to do: build effective, lasting engagement. Community marketing takes portions of inbound marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and even traditional offline marketing to create community with the target audience.
Image: Pack Strategy
So what's the issue with each of these marketing strategy trends? Even though these methods can attract people to their brand, the majority of them will bounce and are unlikely to stick.
Community marketing allows you to create genuine, meaningful relationships with your audience by bringing people together who share a common passion with your brand. This ultimately creates what all human beings strive for: a sense of belonging. Through genuine communication and giving back to your community, long-term loyalty and genuine word of mouth will naturally follow.
To summarise, here is how past marketing strategies and community marketing can work together:
1) Past Marketing: To attract people who are looking for useful information and fulfillment.
Community Marketing: To build lifelong loyalty and genuine word of mouth
The beauty of community marketing is that it supports and fosters passionate tribes by not only cultivating authentic relationships between members, but also a relationship between brand and member.
Why Is Community Marketing Effective?
Breaks through Traditional demographic approach
Image: Pack Strategy
The traditional way of defining demographics is outdated. Nowadays there are a lot of organizations targeting young generations but struggling to understand Millennials. Unfortunately, there are many subgroups and cohorts with distinct personalities and, as they grow up, you’ll have to start all over again with the next generation (Gen Z).
The second problem with that approach is overly defining people by their value archetypes. This, again, is limited. For example, if a Striving 30’s individual has 100 definitive values, how many of those values change when they reach 40? Or when they have their first child? Or when they get a divorce? Would your targeting change then? Unfortunately (or fortunately), humans are organic and cannot be placed in a box, nor do we want to be.
On top of that, thanks to the Internet and social media, we are able to reach out information that feeds our wants and needs. When you want to learn something new, you can go online and easily obtain the ‘How-To’. This climate allows us to become more diversified based on our interests and passions regardless of demographics. Perhaps that’s why we’re always drawn to ads that break perceptions and challenge the status quo.
Image: Pack Strategy
Therefore, what matters more than demographics are our passions. What bonds us together is our shared passions, and we need community to foster that passion. That’s where brands can contribute to their audience.
Expert community is the first place to go and it results in authentic word of mouth
Think about the last time you were about to buy a new product. Who did you ask about it? Probably someone in the inner centre of a community who are experts on that product or service.
Take skiing as an example. If you were interested in buying a pair of skis, you’d probably ask your closest friend or family what they would recommend and why. After that, you’d look to online forums. Both of those come from the inner circle of a community that loves skiing.
There’s an opportunity for brands to contribute to these communities. For example, if Salomon — a ski brand — helped foster a community of ski-lovers, they would be the first to know what the community needs and wants. They would also be able to create products for their community that no other brand is doing. Most importantly, they would humanize their brand and stay top-of-mind for that community.
Sense of community belonging bonds your audience with your brand
Arguably, Bill Gates infamous statement that “Content is king”, is no longer the case with excessive amount of content available online. Users upload more than 400 hours of video
to YouTube every minute. Instagrammers post more than 95 million photos and videos
daily. Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted
on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day.
With this climate, it’s easy for audiences to pass you by if you just keep providing useful information to them in the same way that other brands do. The issue is that audiences are no longer looking for useful information; they’re seeking a feeling of belonging and an authentic relationship with their peers and brands.
Community provides purpose and meaning. Just look at Maslow's hierarchy — these are fundamental needs that can't be ignored.
Grow your community with their help
The significant shift of community marketing from past marketing is the transition from 2-way conversations to 3-way conversations, meaning it allows your audience to be able to interact with each other and have a conversation around your product without your brand asking.
In community, they nurture their passion, engagement, and feeling of belonging by themselves, and this grows over time.
Communities can grow beyond geographic limitations
Despite the conception that social media disconnects us, online and social media platforms have provided new ways to generate communities in a way traditional communities never could.
Online communities can eliminate geographic limitations and further barriers that constrain people from relating to one another over their shared passions. Whether it’s Beyonce’s community — the Bee Hive — or Apple’s community, strong brands build communities that create a sense of belonging and inspiration.
What Are Benefits of Brand Community?
Through community marketing, you will gain the following benefits as a brand:
Positioned as Industry Leaders to the people
Community marketing is a formula of marketing strategies that worldwide, corporate giants such as Nike, Lego, and Apple have inadvertently implemented but have not made the most of yet. Whether your industry is niche or not, community marketing positions you as thought leaders in the industry nonetheless.
Community marketing is not a short-term solution and can grow across generations as it is built on a foundation of timeless passions. Strong community generates consistent word of mouth and leads through community activities. You’ll have members being born into your community rather than chasing them after they’ve developed.
Moreover, because community is not limited to demographics but passions, your brand will be able to build a community across the globe and across generations.
Ongoing Market Research Source
It puts you in tune with the evolving nature of the community. Before you notice sales drop, you are able to detect the change through conversation. Eventually, you may even be able to lead it with enough trust and listening.
Diversified Customer Base
Unlike traditional segments, our goal is to draw people with their passions. This allows an opportunity to attract a very diverse customer base regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, or traditional values. While these factors can be used to inform, they do not define your customer base.
Word of Mouth
If you’re familiar with market research
, you’ll find that majority of results will tell you that the number one way people hear about a new product is through word of mouth. Often, marketers push through staying top-of-mind to enter the pool of options but community building enables the influence of your biggest fans to reverberate throughout the greater community.
Building Brand Clout and Consistency
When a company has many products and targets, the approach is to have multiple messages for multiple targets. Unfortunately, this can result in fragmented marketing and the continual need to adjust marketing strategies, which consequently makes building clout very challenging as well as hindering the ability to build consistency.
Community building isn’t limited to a location or a size. In fact, studies on communities around the world confirm the similarities. One study goes so far as to confirm that languages are not a barrier but rather the disagreement on the vision.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of marketing in the digital era is content creation. It requires a lot of strategic thought, the development of ideas and concepts, as well as sharing and collaboration. Fortunately, as you build a community, the ownership of the content being shared changes from the brand to the community itself.
Top of Mind
Community marketing basically gives you advertising 24/7, unlike paid advertising where you pay for each individual exposure. A healthy brand community will be chattering throughout all hours of the day, keeping your brand top-of-mind.
What We Do
By providing our clients with expertise in building communities, we are able to help them build their brand with a marketing approach that has lasted for centuries — word of mouth.
Our approach is designed based on decades of social psychology studies on online and offline communities. We looked into what creates them, what fosters them, and what keeps them going generation after generation.
Header Image: unsplash.com