Building a community is almost one of the most challenging communication goals because it is not about quick results or “here and now”. Brands often underestimate the importance of building a community, but you need to think about the opportunity to connect people with similar lifestyles, humor, traditions, and preferences. After all, thanks to this, the brand can gain a very loyal audience and become close with consumers.
To competently build a community (and in general to succeed), it is worth remembering several things.
Subscribers ≠ community
You may have tens of thousands of followers, but their interest in your company may be limited to just a subscription. They don’t like your posts and don’t respond to them, they don’t watch stories, and they don’t protect your product/service from haters. There is a fine line here. And it is based on the fact that community means unity and love. Because of significant commitment to the company, people respond to all info drives and manifestations of the brand in the communication field.
You can draw an analogy with influencers. Brands are now turning to microbloggers rather than millionaires. The latter has a lot of followers. That’s a fact. But do they really bring people together under common interests, values, or lifestyles? Instead, we have microbloggers. People with a lot in common gather around them and create their community, sharing helpful things and supporting each other.
Therefore, brands should always pay attention to community building. And not just in words but by prescribing it in a marketing or communication strategy because it is a long game.
Clearly understand your target audience
“Women, 25-30 years old, single, working, living in Kyiv.” You were wrong if you thought that was a profound and apt description of the target audience. When a brand builds a community, it must clearly understand what people live for. Not where they live and how old they are, but what they like, what products they prefer, what are their favorite TV shows, what they like to do in their free time, where they go to dinner, and other details researched as much as possible. Socio-demographic indicators can guide understanding your target audience but are not a determining factor.
Let’s talk about the example of women. You will find much more insights about building a community if you describe your target in more depth: women, 25-30 years old, single, work in creative industries, most agencies, live in Kyiv, have pets, like to walk in the Golden Gate area, drinking cappuccino and watching movies with Timothée Chalamet, European countries with beautiful architecture are chosen for travel. With a deeper understanding of who your consumers are, you will also understand what to talk to them about and how. In turn, it will be easier for you to build a community because you will find something to do it around.
Which communication platforms to choose if you are building a community
The easiest and fastest platforms are social networks. Quickness isn’t about building a community instantly. It is about the possibility of receiving feedback from the audience in a short time. In particular, they are good tools for testing different interaction formats.
It is worth paying attention to the target audience of specific social networks. Facebook is unlikely to help build a brand community whose audience is progressive gen Z. But a much higher chance is to connect with them on Twitter.
It is also recommended to test different types of content. Communicate in stories, ask followers’ opinions, tell stories (even bad ones), show live people, and create discussions. And don’t be afraid to be ironic and joke about yourself too.
Direct communication is an important aspect. Remember: respond as much as possible to comments and mentions of your brand (even negative ones). No comments should be ignored. You will awaken a positive emotion by answering someone with a simple heart. And later, this particular person will give you a million hearts, not because of it, but despite everything.
It takes work for brands to build a community. It is a long-term process that requires testing approaches, formats, and messages. However, knowing who you are for, what you are about, and who you are with is worth just trying and looking. Look for your approaches, your topics, and your people.