Remember when brand marketing used to be all about advertising? Who could buy the most television time or fill the newspaper with the most ads? Who could call more homes or even travel door-to-door?
Inbound marketing brought a halt to many forms of interruption marketing, giving consumers the power to find the products they wanted and needed on their own.
Inbound marketing has evolved over the years, from packing keywords into online articles for SEO purposes to building online communities where consumers can get the information, service, and recommendations that enhance their buying power.
Building a community isn’t easy, but it’s well worth your effort. Following are some tips for developing a robust community that will strengthen your brand, as well as your bottom line.
Make Your Community Easy to Find
Building a community is more than firing up a company Facebook page. While Facebook is a logical choice, considering how many people still use the platform—including Generation Z buyers looking for new brands—there are additional options as well.
Consider where your audience lives online, and fold in other social pages, groups, and channels where your audience is most likely to participate.
For instance, reaching Generation Z and younger Millennials might involve an Instagram community, where 72% of ages 13-17 and 64% of ages 18-29 live. These are also the age groups you’ll reach if you decide to create a YouTube channel, where you’ll reach 90% of 18-44-year olds. YouTube also reaches Gen X and Baby Boomers, with over 80% of users between the ages of 45 and 64.
Once you create the communities, don’t just step back and hope people find you. Reach out to your audience, whether through sharing links to your social accounts through email marketing, posting blogs, or using paid ads to get in front of your target audience. Specific hashtags are another way to reach more consumers.
Focus on Solving Problems
A brand community sounds a bit like a 24/7 party, doesn’t it? All those people showing up to celebrate your brand!
And yes, you’ll enjoy hearing how much your buyers love your brand, and seeing plenty of shares of your content around the web. But there will also be complaints, questions, and general issues that need to be addressed.
Though other members can help users with their problems, you need to be ready at all times to provide feedback, advice, troubleshooting, and support.
Use Content to Educate
Studies show that 47% of buyers will consume three to five pieces of content before making a purchase. That’s why your content marketing strategy is so important.
You have a tremendous opportunity to educate your customers and endear your brand to them through stories, videos, images, blogs, and support of social causes. Create your content with purpose to drive your buyers first toward a purchase, and then toward continued loyalty.
Your community will also provide the added benefit of user-generated content. Ask them to share their stories in their own words. Invite them to send images and video using your products, especially if they’ve found creative ways to do so.
The end result will be powerful word-of-mouth marketing, where potential buyers can see real people using your products, which is infinitely better than slick marketing materials.
With authenticity the most crucial aspect of a brand, according to 87% of global consumers, the credibility you’ll gain will be priceless.
Is It Real or Is It Fake? Know Your Followers
An online community of almost any size can bring out counterfeit profiles and trolls no matter how careful you are, and it’s essential to understand the difference.
A recent study suggests that over 16% of the top 20 Instagram accounts’ followers are fake.
You may think that telling the difference between a fake and real account is simple.
Because an account with zero followers that is following thousands is as dead a giveaway as an account without a profile picture, right? Or as obvious as comments comprised of irrelevant spam and superficial emojis.
You may even think that having fake followers is no big deal. Those bigger numbers look great, right?
The problem is, those fake accounts are stealing your money. What good are your ads doing if you’re paying to reach someone who doesn’t exist? Some marketers believe they’ve lost up to 50% of their ad dollars on such fake accounts.
Fortunately, there’s a tool for that.
Bring Your Online Community Into the Real World
Brand communities are powerful when building loyalty, but your biggest advocates don’t just want to interact with you online.
Experiential marketing is having a great moment right now because it provides the opportunity to bring your community together for special branded events.
It may be a pop-up shop, an in-store event, a party, a concert, or just about anything that gives your buyers a chance to rub elbows with the brand. As an added bonus, everyone there will be taking photos and videos, so you’ll have plenty of content to share—both your own and user-generated content.
Building a brand community is time-consuming and takes a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth the investment.