What is a brand community and how to build a successful one

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If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your brand and have better conversations with your customers, you need to build a brand community.

Brand communities rally your most loyal customers in one place, which is a massive win for any brand. Plus, these communities are fun for your audience to chat with like-minded people.

To help you further understand what exactly a brand community is, why they’re so important for your business and how to build a successful one, we’ve put together this quick guide to share with you.

Let’s get started.

What is a brand community?

In the simplest terms, a brand community showcases brand loyalty at its best. People in your brand community are emotionally invested; they will buy from your company, digest your content, tell their friends and family about your company, and more.

But a brand community is not the same as brand awareness.

Just because someone knows about or has purchased from your brand doesn’t mean they’re part of an engaged or even an engageable brand community.

Instead, your brand community is people who follow all of your content on social media, who share your products/services and content with others, and who enjoy seeing everything your brand does.

More simply put, a brand community is a place where people who have an emotional connection to your brand can connect with each other and with your brand.

Why should you build a brand community?

It’s important to understand that your brand community already exists on social media. It’s your job to find this community, connect with it directly, and build a strategy for individuals within the community to interact with each other.

And you want to do this because your brand community is a powerful business tool.

Imagine having a group of people who regularly use your product or service that you can regularly reach out to. With this group, you can test new product mockups, ask about feature releases, share blog content, and collect general feedback for improvement.

Because this community can help your brand to make customer-driven decisions and spread the word about your business, make sure you’re building a strong community that thrives and rewards your community members.

Let’s talk about how you can build a successful brand community that is mutually beneficial to both your brand and your audience.

How to build a successful brand community

There are already people out there who love your brand. Now it’s time to rally them all together and build a space for them.

Building a successful brand community can appear in many different forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. However, we’ll walk you through a few essential steps that can help you determine the best brand community for you.

1. Define your brand

If you want to build a community around your brand, you need to know what your brand is. This goes beyond what your business sells or offers.

This involves your mission, company vision, brand voice and personality. What is your brand trying to do? Who is it trying to help? What does it want to be known for?

All of these are important to define before building a community. Because the more you showcase what your brand is all about, the more you’ll attract the target audience you’re looking for.

2. Define your brand goal and metrics

As I mentioned earlier, brand communities are a way for you to make customer-driven decisions and spread the word about your business. But you should ask yourself a lot of questions before creating a brand community.

These are just a few sample questions you should ask to guide you in the right direction when developing a strategy for your brand community.

  • Ultimately, what’s the purpose behind the community?
  • Are you helping people get answers to questions on your product? Or about their profession?
  • What are you doing for your community members to stay engaged?
  • How are you measuring success of your brand community?
  • What metrics do you want to track? Lead generations? Conversions?
  • How will your brand community goals help with your company goals? For example, how will a brand community help marketing, support, sales?

Once you set these goals and metrics, the next two steps will be easier to handle.

3. Choose a community platform

There are several different options when it comes to creating your brand community’s home base.

I’ll cover a few popular ones as well as successful examples so you can consider a few options of what might work best for your brand and audience.

Forum

A forum is a great way for a much larger community to be able to talk about shared interests, whether they’re directly about the brand or not.

Take Spotify’s community, for example. Because Spotify is a massive music streaming platform with a wide audience, a forum works perfectly for them.

brand community - spotify's community forum

Whether people are talking about the music they love or sharing new artists or playlists on the platform, forums are a great way for Spotify’s brand to cultivate conversations around their industry with their music streaming platform being right at the center of it.

Social media

There are two different ways you can manage your community on social media – by engaging through your platform or by creating a social media group.

One great example of a brand who uses their social media presence for community building is jewelry retailer Ring Concierge.

The Instagram Business Account is run by the woman who owns the company, and she’s very hands on and transparent with her audience. She uses the brand’s Instagram stories to regularly communicate with her audience, often holding Q&As and having followers vote on potential new products.

brand community - ring concierge instagram stories

Communities can also be built through a hashtag, similar to how photo editing app A Color Story has done. They feature photos that are posted using the branded hashtag #AColorStory on their feed, building brand loyalty and adding user-generated authenticity to their feed.

brand community - a color story hashtag

The last way to use social media is by creating an actual group that your customers and community members join and use to interact with you. Facebook or LinkedIn groups are the most popular for this.

See an example below from graphic design software Visme. They created a Facebook Group called The Visme Lounge, where their most loyal and engaged users go to share their designs and gather ideas.

brand community - visme lounge

Since brands can create and manage Facebook Groups, it makes it much easier to use this avenue as a successful brand community platform.

Rewards or affiliate programs

Another way to hone in on your brand community is by creating a program that gives back to your most loyal customers or referrals.

A rewards program often gives regular customers perks, and a great example of this can be seen with Starbucks.

brand community - starbucks rewards

Each time a rewards member places an order through the Starbucks app, they earn Stars that add up to perks, such as free espresso shots or free drinks.

An affiliate program is another way to reward loyal customers and people who refer customers to your business. By creating a program that allows these customers to receive a payout for each person they refer, you’re building a bigger and better community.

Third-party community platforms

Many times, brands choose to use third-party platforms to help them facilitate a community.

Options for this include sites like Slack and Mobilize, where you can create various channels/topics for your community members to check out and start conversations in.

4. Regularly engage with your brand community

Give your community members a reason to stay involved. Respond to any and all questions, create discussion posts and encourage new conversations with your community.

Sprout’s social media engagement tools can help ensure you never miss a single post from someone in your community so that you can continue to nurture relationships with all of your most loyal customers.

Use Sprout Social's Smart Inbox to reply to followers, brand mentions, and brand community members.

Create your own brand community today

Ready to start building your own brand community?

Use social media as a valuable asset beyond simple engagements and mentions. Engage with your customers and potential customers in a way that makes them feel valuable to the brand themselves. To learn more about creating strong relationships with your audience on social media, check out our latest Sprout Social Index..

This post What is a brand community and how to build a successful one originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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