Build your brand community with Podia

In this article, we’ll cover three major benefits of building a brand community. Then, we’ll share how you can use Podia’s community feature to sell your products, share your content, and build your community — all in one place.

Members of a brand community have shared goals, challenges, and values. As a creator, your products help them achieve their goals, while your brand community offers them a supportive social community along the way.

If you already use social media for your small business , you have the beginnings of an online community. But building a brand community means creating an exclusive space for your members to connect, collaborate, and engage with your brand and each other.

Often, this means moving away from the confines of a traditional social network like Twitter or Facebook Groups. 74% of the creators we spoke to are using Facebook for their communities — but 88% of those creators want to switch community platforms.

Take Sephora’s Beauty Insider community and rewards program, for example. Sephora was one of the first brands to build an online forum for their fans to share beauty tips, receive invites to influencer events, and seek advice from brand experts.

But you don’t have to be an international ecommerce brand or bring in thousands of members to benefit from a successful brand community. Keep reading for three big reasons you should build an online community ASAP.

3 big benefits of building an online community

1. Connect with your customers

Once a community is built and thriving, your followers will start to interact with each other — but it’s you, your products, and your content that drive people to join your community in the beginning.

The discussions you create in your brand community let you build those connections and bond over those shared values. You get to know your target audience on a more personal level, and in turn, you can create products and content that truly meet their needs.

Tiffany learned what her audience wanted by asking them directly. “People really want to learn and know what they can do to start either a side-hustle to make some extra money or to be able to leave their job so they can do it full-time,” Tiffany told us .

Overall, asking for feedback creates a better customer experience and makes customers more likely to stay loyal to your brand . In turn, those loyal customers are more likely to give you actionable feedback. It’s a win-win.

2. Help members get more out of your products and content

When you create a community around your products, members can connect over a shared experience. Working through the same online course or striving to meet the goals of a membership challenge creates a sense of community.

In other words, people seek out and engage the most with communities that create emotional experiences for them. There are few examples of this better than Make What Matters , a membership by podcast pro and entrepreneur Jay Acunzo .

Make What Matters is a group for creators looking to create meaningful content and connect with each other, so the ability to read and discuss Jay’s posts is a major perk. Community building allows Jay’s customers to make the most of their membership experience.

So, whether your members want to discuss your latest newsletter or need help understanding a lesson in your course, your community provides a space for them to talk to and learn from each other.

3. Build brand loyalty and turn customers into brand ambassadors

As a part of your community, members feel more emotionally connected to your brand. And when people feel connected, they’re more likely to recommend your brand and products to others.

Brand loyalty and customer retention can help your bottom line, too. It can cost up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one and repeat customers are nine times more likely to convert than a first-time shopper.

Customer loyalty is the top business outcome of creating an online community. People tell their friends and networks about the brands they love, and word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools.

This is especially true in the age of social media. Your customers have bigger platforms than ever to spread the word about your business. When your customers become engaged, emotionally invested members of a community, you can turn loyal fans into brand advocates.

Brand communities can also be a stellar source of user-generated content (UGC), like testimonials and reviews. Across industries, potential customers who look at UGC convert at a 161% higher rate than people who don’t.

​​ Sales page testimonials work even better for higher-priced products, like annual subscriptions or pricey courses. In one experiment, conversion rates rose by 380% when reviews were included on a higher-priced product’s landing page.

To gather UGC from your community, encourage them to share their biggest takeaways from your content or courses. You can also ask them what advice they’d give to someone who’s considering joining your community, signing up for your course, or working toward a similar goal.

Creating a strong brand community can help you connect with your customers, create a better member experience, and build brand loyalty. To make it happen, you need the right community platform.

So, what is a “brand community”?

The phrase ‘brand community’ has been thrown around so often over the past few years that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just another marketing buzzword that you don’t need to be distracted by. But before you skim past this section of your business plan, you should hear what you’re missing.

fitness brand Gymshark’s Instagram features members of their community

Gymshark is known for its community building on Instagram, using ambassadors and customers in their clothing across their social media by via Instagram

A brand community is a group of people who come together, or are brought together, because of a shared interest in a particular brand, its products or services, its values, or its mission. In some ways, they are like brand ambassadors who will recommend and review your products online and to friends and family. But they go one step further and remain actively engaged with your brand and each other.

For this to thrive, community members need a platform, which we’ll look at in more detail later. So developing social media accounts and allowing them to become a space for followers to actively discuss what you do is a good starting point.

How to develop your community strategy

The first thing to bear in mind when considering how you want your brand community to look is that it’s actually not all about your business, it’s about your customers. Building brand community into your business strategy is an almost-essential element for success in the digital age. But you can’t control it too heavily. More on that later, but as you begin your strategy, remember that you can’t dictate the way your community— a group of independent, external people who have volunteered to support your brand—will run in the same way you can other aspects of your business.

a poster for a yoga brand’s community event

Some brand communities can form and connect in real life settings like this yoga business in London by ssnastasia

What you can do is consider how your community can help your business to achieve its wider goals. For example, depending on what kind of product or service you sell, you could factor in the different opportunities to work with your community for promotion, outreach, and events. You could work with members of your community to gather insights, test out new products, or even advertise your brand in exchange for an agreed fee or reward.

Working closely with the people who have put themselves forward as advocates for your brand is one of the best ways to get genuine feedback, both positive and negative, about what you’re doing. But don’t treat them like a free marketing tool—reward their loyalty, and your community could harness some of the most effective power for promoting and shaping your brand and reaching your company-wide goals.

Learn from established brand communities

Brand community has come to be articulated primarily via social media but also through a themed magazine, email CRM, timely blogs and live events – all tools available to marketers today.

But the brands often cited as offering great examples of brand communities don’t necessarily distribute content for their core fans across all platforms, but have honed their attention to one platform where users can congregate thus providing them with a platform and a purpose.

– Sephora runs a (old fashioned) forum where users can ask questions, share ideas, and have their beauty issues solved by others.
– Lego has a dedicated site where users can show off what they’ve built and submit product ideas.
– Starbucks runs a similar (but much more limited) programme.
– Xbox has a forum too.

Find out more about these brand communities in action but note how these communities congregate around one place – if spread across all of social media it would diffuse the community and ongoing interactions.

Sources:

https://www.podia.com/articles/build-brand-community
https://99designs.com/blog/logo-branding/what-is-a-brand-community-why-it-could-be-helpful-and-how-to-build-one/
https://www.dialogue.agency/blog/how-to-create-a-brand-community-set-up-and-success

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