By Rachael Hazen
Being a part of a community is more than a want – it is a physiological need. This need is the part of you that craves “family” and inclusion while making you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. With the rise of social media and digital experiences, it is becoming easier to connect your target audience to your brand through community development strategy.
What is community development strategy?
Community development strategy is the process of uniting similar target segments that share the same beliefs of your company through a mix of social media platforms, blog articles, and online discussion boards. The idea is to deliver valuable content for your online or offline market. Whether that is through in-person events or online webinars, customers want to take part in creative experiences that are associated with your brand.
This strategy makes a strong brand presence that your customers can interact with. Investing time and energy into community development results in loyalty which helps retain current customers and invites new-comers with open arms.
These communities invite conversation and remove barriers that exist between a company and its consumers. Whether you’re answering a customer’s question or diving into an interesting topic, this back and forth engagement shows that you’re paying close attention to your customer’s needs and working on resolving ongoing issues.
Why having a brand community is important:
When a company creates a community, value is added to the customer experience. If your consumers feel valued and a part of something bigger, they will want to take part in creating your brand’s story. This value exchange creates brand loyalty which inherently attracts new customers.
Having a community within your company will:
1. Help identify customer issues
Brand communities might create conflict, but that is what makes a company grow.
2. Minimize communication hurdles
When your audience has free reign to communicate, this provides valuable information for a company.
3. Lead to consumer-centric problem solving
Give your audience a microphone and they will speak. If you need help with innovative ideas, ask!
4. Increase word-of-mouth marketing
When your consumers know you care enough to create a community for them, they are empowered to share your company services or products.
Your company’s community enables a mutual exchange between your audience and brand. This communication results in a flow of information and innovation but must be reciprocated on both ends for there to be a sustainable competitive advantage in a company.
How is community strategy executed?
Communities can form naturally for one’s company, but they can also be generated from the ground up. Strategies can be developed through researching your target audience and where they congregate digitally. It is necessary to determine the needs and scope out social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Once your company has determined the most suitable platform, it must have the appropriate brand voice throughout marketing efforts.
The idea is to get into the shoes of your targeted customer and ask yourself what you want to gain from the interactions with your company. Community engagement allows you to assess how the brand is perceived and from there, you can alter the dialogue based on your brand’s values and company narrative.
Overall, community development is about fostering better relationships with your consumers.
Building and maintaining relationships is the foundation for developing a customer-centric marketing strategy. Getting personal and experiencing the journey as a consumer is a powerful approach that every company should take. A seamless experience is expected from consumers and can make or break their decision to purchase from one’s company.
To build relationships with a company, there must be a company narrative. This story can connect your target audience to the business’ core values and beliefs. Ultimately, community-driven communication can enhance the value of your products and services by giving people a deeper relationship with your business.