9 Steps to Building and Nurturing Your Brand Community on Social Media
Brands keep seeking ways to foster deeper relationships with their audience. Social media is integral to brand building by nurturing communities centered around a brand’s ethos and values. The following details some ideas on how to leverage social media strategies (including social media automation) to cultivate a thriving brand community, and ensure sustained engagement and loyalty.
What is a brand community?
A brand community is a cohesive group of individuals who resonate with a brand, and can be characterized by shared values, rituals, traditions, and a mutual sense of responsibility. In essence, a brand community is the nexus of a brand’s loyal customer base. It can range from a Facebook group, to an interactive segment on the brand’s website, to an enticing rewards or loyalty program that facilitates customer interaction. Today’s leading brands leverage their dedicated brand communities to enhance loyalty, engagement, and innovation.
Although these communities were initially offline and established through in-person gatherings or word-of-mouth, the social media age has transitioned many brand communities online. Now, they manifest in various forms, from fan pages to group chats to comment sections on prominent social media posts.
These communities offer a space for customers to express their genuine opinions about the brand or its offerings. They can bond over shared interests, exchange brand anecdotes, provide insights, or admire the newest product releases. While communities do naturally evolve around their shared interests, brands themselves have taken an active role in fostering them, as seen by initiatives like community events, loyalty schemes, and reward systems, to name a few.
The power of brand communities
Brand communities enable brands to engage deeply with their most devoted customers, bolstering customer retention but also cultivating brand ambassadors. By establishing a brand community and fostering connections with these customers, brands can further incentivize brand promotion. This could range from simple gestures like resharing their brand-tagged social media posts, to intricate loyalty programs offering rewards for various engagements.
For many reputable brands, an inherent community already thrives. The challenge lies in locating and nurturing connections with these ardent followers. Social media platforms often serve as an ideal starting point, enabling brands to set up a space for interaction.
For consumers, brand communities provide a place for people with shared interests to exchange insights and maximize their product experience. Also, these communities enhance the allure of membership with enticing incentives, such as rewards, exclusive access, or special events.
Brands reap a ton of benefits, as seen by studies that note that 8 in 10 consumers say that being part of an online brand community makes them more likely to purchase new products or services from that brand. Brand communities also help:
- Amplify brand visibility
- Boost both online and offline sales
- Increase online engagement (including website traffic, as noted by 80% of marketers)
- Offer up customer insights
- Reinforce brand authority to a diverse customer base
- Form brand values, especially for emerging brands
Brand communities let brands connect with their clientele, which serves to strengthen existing customer relationships, elevate the brand’s stature, broaden its reach, and solidify its market credibility.
Building your brand community on social media
Your brand community can offer lots of benefits to your brand. But building one doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you’re tapping into an existing online community or creating one from scratch, you can take a few key steps to maximize outcomes for your business.
1. Establish your brand’s identity and goals
Before you create your brand community, you need to ensure that you’ve clearly defined your brand’s objectives, whether that’s increasing service sign-ups, fostering authentic user-generated content, or amplifying product awareness. These goals depend on the platforms and tactics you employ, and it’s critical to ensure these align with your overarching business aims. You connect best with your audience when your brand has a distinct identity that resonates with values with which they can empathize. Beyond the products you offer, your brand’s ethos embodies truly matters. So crafting your distinctive brand persona and ensuring all branded social media content accentuates this image is vital for genuine consumer engagement.
Adidas, for instance, has successfully leveraged its brand identity of performance and passion in sports to build a community around its products. Through campaigns like #heretocreate, Adidas has celebrated individuality and creativity, resonating with its audience and fostering a sense of belonging among its community members.
When considering brand communities, your brand’s essence becomes the linchpin for genuine consumer connections. It’s not merely about the tangible products but the values, ethos, and narratives your brand champions. When consumers are presented with two identical products from different brands, they instinctively gravitate towards the brand they feel a deeper connection with. This underscores the importance of a robust and memorable brand identity. Every piece of content, every campaign, and every interaction should consistently reflect this identity, ensuring that both current and potential customers perceive and resonate with the brand’s core values and vision.
2. Choose your social media platforms
Choosing the right social media channels for your business is crucial for an effective social media marketing strategy. Your decision should factor in the target audience’s demographics and preferences, your overall marketing goals, available resources, existing content types, and insights from competitors’ social media usage. Different platforms cater to different demographics and content types—for instance, Instagram is visually driven and popular among younger audiences, while LinkedIn is a hub for professional networking and B2B marketing. On the other hand, platforms like TikTok and YouTube keep growing rapidly, offering businesses opportunities for video content.
Whichever platforms you choose, automated social media posting can play a pivotal role in your social media marketing strategy. Given the diverse range of platforms and the unique content demands of each, automation helps you maintain a consistent online presence without overwhelming your resources. It ensures timely posting, which is especially crucial for platforms like Twitter, where content lifespan is short. Moreover, automation can help you tap into optimal posting times for different platforms, increasing engagement and reach. But while automation helps you disseminate content, you should remain engaged with your audience, responding promptly to comments and feedback to maintain a genuine online presence.
3. Interact with your audience and make the community useful to them
Once you clarify your brand goals and choose your brand community platforms, engagement is the next pivotal step. Effective communication within brand communities can help solidify them as sanctuaries for genuine brand enthusiasts. Instead of simply starting the community with promotions or incentives, you might take cues from the community’s pulse. Listen to their discussions, queries, and interactions. Successful brands foster trust and stimulate engagement by resonating with the community’s vernacular, promptly addressing posts, and answering queries.
One example of this is Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin. This platform, which started as a magazine and expanded into a digital community, focuses on stories beyond the ordinary, from sports to lifestyle and culture. Members can engage with content that showcases extreme sports, interviews with athletes, and behind-the-scenes looks at events sponsored by Red Bull. Through The Red Bulletin, Red Bull has extended its brand beyond just an energy drink, creating a space where enthusiasts of extreme sports and adventurous lifestyles can connect, share, and be inspired.
Your brand community works best when it stays relevant and useful to your customers. Regardless of brand, if your community seems superficial, your customers will disregard it or find it irrelevant—so understanding your customer base is vital. Use social media and web analytics to see their preferences, and make sure the community aligns with their interests. For instance, a tech-centric audience might appreciate a community centered around new tech explorations, reviews, and tutorials. Conversely, a musically inclined audience might resonate with a community connected to Spotify, where playlist creation and sharing are encouraged. The main point in crafting a brand community is to make it pertinent to both current and potential customers.
4. Actively nurture your brand community
After establishing a brand community, it’s essential to remain proactive, ensuring its continued relevance and vibrancy. Effective community management is a continuous endeavor. Appoint dedicated moderators to oversee the community’s activities and foster engagement. To bolster interaction within your brand community, consider the following strategies:
- Start discussions on relevant subjects
- Respond to comments and participate in dialogues
- Organize polls, quizzes, or contests to captivate members
- Incorporate gamification to create a dynamic experience
- Answer questions, guide discussions, and be visible and active
Automated social media posting can be crucial to nurturing your brand community. By scheduling and automating posts, you can keep your online presence consistent, and ensure that your community stays engaged and informed. This keeps the brand top-of-mind for community members, and also allows for timely updates, promotions, and announcements. Also, automation tools can offer analytics that let you measure engagement and adjust yourr strategies based on what resonates most with the community. In essence, automated social media posting ensures that the brand’s voice remains active and relevant, fostering a deeper connection with community members.
Making Your Brand Community Thrive
Cultivating a vibrant brand community in your social media platforms requires a blend of strategic initiatives and genuine engagement. Here are some tactics that can guide your brand towards creating a thriving online presence and community.
5. Team up
Collaboration is key to making your brand community succeed and grow it with social media. Bring your community management team and social media marketers together to forge a unified message and experience. While your social media marketer might focus on metrics like follower count and engagement rates, your community manager could prioritize membership growth, event sign-ups, and user-generated content. But both will be interested in how many social media followers convert to community members. Depending on your community’s objectives, roping in social media marketing, content marketing, and customer support teams might be beneficial.
6. Identify and empower your thought leaders
Activating thought leaders and experts can elevate your community’s exclusivity and appeal. Original insights from these people don’t just enrich the community—you can also repurpose those insights for platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter, so that they attract more followers.
7. Find your advocates
To entice social media followers into your community, it’s essential to recognize and engage your brand advocates. These are individuals who ardently follow, share, and appreciate your brand’s content. By offering them exclusive perks, such as access to VIP events or beta testing opportunities, you can deepen their connection to your brand.
Lush Cosmetics, known for its handmade and cruelty-free products, has effectively deepened connections with its advocates. By promoting user-generated content, hosting community events, and spotlighting loyal customers on their social media platforms, Lush has created a sense of belonging and appreciation among its most passionate followers.
8. Create connections
The linchpin of a thriving community is the strength of its connections. A brand like MySpace, which once dominated the social media landscape, waned due to weak member connections and competition. To make your community flourish, you need to foster robust relationships, becoming indispensable to its members. In the community’s nascent stages, proactive engagement strategies, such as member spotlights, networking events, and expert panels, can be instrumental in cementing these connections.
9. Automate your social media strategy
In this social media era, consistency is key to keep your brand community engaged and thriving. Automated social media posts ensure that your brand maintains a steady presence, offering fresh content and updates to your audience without fail. This keeps the community engaged but also allows for optimal timing for your posts to reach the maximum audience. Automation tools can also give you valuable insights into the performance of your posts, and help you refine your content strategy based on real-time feedback. Automating your social media doesn’t just streamline your operations—it helps you keep your brand community vibrant, informed, and engaged.
Companies can’t afford to underestimate the potency of brand communities. Brands need to deepen their connections with audiences, and that’s where social media strategy becomes essential. To create a space where consumers feel seen, heard, and valued, brands need to commit to the kind of content consistency that social media automation brings. These communities deserve nothing less, and your social media teams deserve the efficiency and time savings that automation brings.Learn how dlvr.it can enable you to use consistent automated content posting and scheduling to help build brand community on your social platforms.