In today's digital age, where online engagement is the norm, the importance of community building is often undervalued. The recent pandemic, however, underscored our inherent need for community. For brands, the question arises - how can we foster a sense of community that helps customers feel more connected and engaged? This article discusses the importance of building robust customer communities and offers insights on how businesses can benefit from these communities.
The Importance of Community
The desire to be part of a community is one of the most fundamental drives of being human. We are social animals, after all. That drive to be part of a community is so deeply ingrained in us that even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop us from craving it. Quite the contrary, we sought connections with a fervor rarely seen before, and this included connections with brands.
That’s right, community is an important part of being a human and marketing like one. In fact, it’s one of the 5 key habits of humanistic marketers.
Brands that successfully cultivated a sense of community around their product or service helped customers combat feelings of isolation, enhancing their connection with the brand in the process. Creating this sense of community goes beyond traditional marketing strategies. It's about fostering an environment where customers feel seen, heard, and valued.
Community as a Business Resource
While creating customer communities is undoubtedly beneficial for customers, the advantages for businesses are equally substantial. Brands can glean valuable insights from these communities, saving resources that would otherwise be spent on traditional research methods like surveys.
Communities are a treasure trove of information, providing businesses with unfiltered feedback and honest opinions from customers. The shared ideas, experiences, and discussions that take place within a community can guide business decisions, spark innovation, and help brands stay attuned to customer needs.
Building a Customer Community
Establishing a customer community goes beyond creating a Facebook group or a discussion forum. Brands must offer compelling reasons for their audience to join, stay, and actively engage. It necessitates thorough planning, continuous resources, and a focus on addressing the needs and interests of the audience.
For a community to flourish, it must center around the audience. Providing them with a platform to ask questions, seek inspiration, share ideas, and form connections is crucial. Brands should assign community management to individuals adept at fostering social environments, empowering them to nurture the community from the ground up.
Transparency and Authenticity
In an era where consumers are more discerning than ever, brands must substantiate their claims of transparency and authenticity. It's one thing to make bold proclamations about being transparent and authentic, and quite another to demonstrate these values through actions.
The management of both positive and negative feedback within the community serves as a litmus test for a brand's commitment to transparency and authenticity. Customers value brands that uphold their integrity even when faced with criticism.
Dealing with Negative Feedback
Negative feedback is inevitable. However, it's how a brand deals with such feedback that determines its reputation in the eyes of its community. Brands must have a strategy in place to handle negative feedback, including guidelines for response times, public communication strategies, and protocols for escalating issues.
Handling negative feedback in a compassionate, human, and helpful way can earn a brand the respect and trust of its audience. Brands must remember that the goal is not to avoid negative feedback but to address it constructively, turning potential setbacks into opportunities for growth and learning.
Talking about community building is one thing, but sometimes it helps to see it in action. Check out these 4 great examples of companies creating community.
Community building is not a one-time effort; it's an ongoing commitment to engage, support, and value your customers. Brands that foster a sense of community around their products or services stand to gain not just loyal customers, but passionate brand advocates. In the current digital landscape, there's no better competitive advantage than that.