Community Marketing – What It Is and Why You Need It
Marketing doesn’t stop when you’ve acquired a customer, and community marketing is the best example of that. Once you’ve convinced someone to buy your product or use your service, you should put emphasis on retaining them as long-term customers. What’s more, people who use your products and services can give you valuable insight into how you can improve and upgrade what you’re offering.
That is what community marketing is all about — an exchange of information between you as a provider and your customers as the users of your services and products. But how does one develop a community to market to, and how do you maximize the potential of your community marketing strategy?
What Is Community Marketing?
Let’s start with the basics – what is community marketing exactly? In short, it is a strategy of communicating with your brand’s target audience, creating a non-intrusive presence of your product or service, and getting valuable feedback. Unlike most other marketing strategies, community marketing targets people who are already your customers.
Community marketing is based on one simple need we all have – to belong to a community where what we say matters. As a customer, you have the opportunity to voice your ideas, concerns, and questions to the brand. As a brand, you get to receive valuable input, show your customers that they are important to you, and build a loyal audience for life.
Although most community marketing happens online, on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, top brands take their communities offline, as well. For example, Red Bull frequently organizes extreme sports events that bring together likeminded individuals. Brands such as Adidas and Nike have running teams in most major cities in the world, and the world-famous motorcycle brand Harley Davidson has bars, online forums, and the largest bike club in the world.
What all these brands have in common is the fact that, when you buy their product, you’re not only becoming the user of said product, but you’re receiving your chance to become a part of a strong, tight-knit community of likeminded individuals.
Why Do I Need Community Marketing?
There are numerous benefits to building a community around your brand. Some of the biggest ones are:
- It doesn’t cost a thing. The expenses of building an online community — or even taking it into the real world — are practically non-existent, especially when compared to traditional advertising channels.
- It increases customer retention. As we have already said, one of the main goals of community marketing is to convince your customers to stay loyal to your brand’s product or service.
- It gives you valuable input. As a brand, you have the main goal of offering goods or services that tailor to your audience. And what better way to know what that exactly is than to ask?
How Do I Use Community Marketing for My Business?
There is more to community marketing than just starting a Facebook group and calling it a day. There are certain guidelines and rules you should follow in order to realize the full potential of this marketing strategy.
Who is Your Average Consumer?
The first step to building a community is understanding who your target audience is. This can include factors such as age, gender, economic status, marital status, occupation, or personal interests. The more precise your customer persona is, the better.
What Do You Bring to the Table?
Now that you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to think about what you can offer. Simply providing the opportunity to belong to a community isn’t enough. Your community members should have access to certain perks, such as discounts, pre-releases, or even things such as tips, information, or guides.
Where Will You Build Your Community?
While your community shouldn’t be limited to one platform only, you don’t want to spread it too thin either. Choose two or three social platforms where you will work on your brand’s presence. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram could be your best bet.
What Is Your Main Idea?
Now that you know who you’re targeting, what you’re bringing to the table, and where your community will be located, it is time to decide what this community is all about. What sort of core values will your brand nurture beyond the idea of selling products and services? Is your goal to improve your consumers’ lives, to teach them new skills, or to help them become better at what they do?
Useful Tips to Help You Keep the Community Going
An online community is like a live organism. It’s not enough to just set it up — you need to put in the effort to keep it going. Here are some useful tips to help you do that.
1. Be An Active Member of Your Community
As a brand, you’re not just the “owner” and the admin of your community. You should also be an active member. Post frequently, reply to other members’ comments and questions and be as engaging as possible.
2. Educate the Community
Aside from discussing your products and encouraging members to share their experiences, you should also put in some effort into educating them. Share valuable content, such as videos or blog posts, at regular intervals. This is how you will make sure the members of your community get something in return for participating.
3. Collaborate with Influencers
If you’re selling a high-quality product or service, you will likely be able to attract some influencers. Be open to collaborating with them, as they can increase the outreach your community has. As a bonus, the members of your community will also get the feeling of being closer to those influencers they follow and admire.
4. Consistency is Key
It is good to introduce some changes every once in a while. However, changing some key concepts, such as your core values or your target audience, will basically send you all the way back to the beginning. Be consistent in what you want to deliver and who you want to deliver it to.
10. Prioritize Accessibility and User Experience
Your community could have all the ingredients necessary for success, but if the user interface is messy and unintuitive, it could all be in vain. Make things clear, simple, and easily accessible — don’t overstuff your platform with too much content.
11. Consider Having a Community Manager
As your community keeps growing, communicating with its members will take more time and energy. If this is affecting your performance in other areas, consider hiring a community manager. With the right professional, you can rest assured your online presence will be just the way you want it.
12. Advertise Your Community
Your community needs to grow, and sometimes, organic reach simply isn’t enough. Consider different ways of advertising it. This could include anything from giving out good old leaflets upon purchase to encouraging referrals and partnering with influencers.
13. Reward the Members of Your Community
Every once in a while, remind the members of your community that you’re grateful to have them there. You could do this by offering member-only discounts or a limited number of coupons. Perhaps you could even organize an occasional giveaway.
Are you ready to use everything that community marketing has to offer? Then stick to our tips, and you will be able to grow your brand and gain loyal customers in no time. Good luck!