Note: Back in June 2013, I cracked into the moz community and figured out what community building ideas they are using to build community around their brand. In this post, I am going to give some additional new ideas that you can use to build community around your brand.
While looking for some quotes on community building and brands, I came across a complete formula of branding being defined by Howard Schultz, According to him:
Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does…
This is very true because branding is not limited to search visibility, positive sales graph or the regular increment of the satisfied customers; however, branding is more about what your company does, and the vision, mission along with the long story. In short, everything that a company does, affects its branding accordingly. Building a brand image is important because this is how people look at your brand.
In the online world, search visibility is important and there are tons and tons of brands who are investing in this area but what many brands either forget or ignore is the power of the online community. In this post, I am going to cover what exactly a community is and what ideas you can use to build and grow community around your brand.
What is Community?
The one-line definition of community that fascinates me the most is the fact that ‘Community is a social unit that shares common values.’ When it comes to business in the online world, a community means a group of people [social unit] that shares vision of the company within their circles and as a result, brand receives more exposure, visibility, mention, endorsement and obviously growth in the community itself. All of this renders a positive impact on sales and conversions, which ultimately leads to greater ROI for businesses.
There are multiple brands that are investing on community building and management, and as a result, what they see is a continuous and consistent business growth with an image that they really want to establish themselves in the market. Following are a few ideas that businesses and companies of any size can use to build and grow a community around their brand with real world examples.
- Cultivating the targeted audience
Building a community is not as easy as it sounds as it requires a great amount of research and knowledge about your targeted audience including where they are, what they do and what type of content they like and more. There are two ways you can use to reach out to your targeted audience.
- Organic Reach
This involves producing and sharing the kind of content that answers the problems of the targeted audience and provide useful information to them that they can use and share within their circles. This keeps them engaged with the brand while spreading positive word of mouth automatically.
SEER Interactive is the brand in the digital marketing world that is continuously inspires its targeted audience and keeps them engaged with the brand by continuously producing awesome content on their blog.
- Paid Reach
There is another way of attracting targeted audience and this is done by investing money on platforms where your audience is already present such as Facebook Ads, Paid tweets, Google Ad Sense, etc. All you need to do is to just create the content that has the power of engaging your audience and promote it on various platforms where the audience is present.
SMX Advance recently used paid banner ads on different blogs to increase the reach of their conference invitation. This is not bad at all as far as you are choosing the right kind of blogs.
- Set yourself as Experts
You have a business and you are not creating content? Here is a resource that will help you identify some strong reasons on why you should be blogging (creating content) for your brand. However, in today’s times, creating content is not enough (especially if you are dealing in the digital marketing world) as every other person or company is busy creating content as per the best of their knowledge and experience. In order to gather a wider community around your brand, you need to create highest quality content that sets you apart as an expert within the industry.
This might sound like a crazy idea but if you research, you will find that a lot of things are still missing within the niche, you need to just discover them and create content accordingly.
Moz.com did a wonderful job by working on content that most of the people have been ignoring while the industry really needs them, for instance Job Survey, Ranking Algorithm Survey, Google Update History, etc. Try to find the gaps within your community, research and build quality content and people will respect you as an industry expert within no time.
- Value your audience
One of the first lessons that I have learnt since I started business was to listen to your customers; however, further experience and studies suggest that the people who are not your customers are equally important to you as they can help you spread your message to the wider community, and endorse your brand only if you value them and consider their opinions as important.
In order to engage your customers plus the audience who is not even your customer yet, it is a good idea to give them a reason to engage with your brand. You can do this by asking for their help in some product testing being done online or requesting them to fill out survey forms, etc as this would engage them with the brand helping your content get more visibility.
Back in 2011, Jennifer Sable Lopez had written a post in which she asked the readers to RT one of her tweet so as to test how Google would react to it. I believe this is one of the finest examples of engaging your current audience with the brand and possibly attracting more and more people to the blog post.
- The KISS Rule
Keep it simple, stupid! This is the idea that works best while building community around the brand. If you know that there is a feature that can be added to the website, this doesn’t mean you should include it. It is always important to keep your audience in mind while making changes to the website.
The better idea is to communicate with your audience by reaching out to them using platforms like blogs, survey forms, giveaways, events, twitter chats and more to know what your customers are looking for and whether or not you should be implementing a change or not.
Recently, my wife’s phone was having some issues and she decided to contact Samsung on twitter. After going through their conversation, I can safely say that Samsung smartly uses the simple rules to make its customers happy while helping them engage with the brand at the same time.
- The 1-9-90 Rule
I found this while I was reading an article by Guy Kawasaki on American Express and the idea simply made me think about community development all over again
He had discussed a new rule by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li (published in their book called Groundswell). According to the rule, only 1% of your audience develops content, 9 % of the total audience will react (engage) to it and the rest of the 90% will only browse through the website.
It is important to understand this rule before you develop or define the campaign’s goals with regards to community development.
There can be a lot of other ideas that you can use to build and grow a community around your brand and get brand exposure, endorsements and better visibility but I consider these to be a few important ones. Branding is all about ideas while every brand regardless of size should invest in it as the long-term ROI is huge!