When’s the last time you felt someone really got you? When someone got your references, felt your pains and shared your joys? Surely you remember the feeling, if not the precise timestamp: You felt understood. Like you were on the same page, and you belonged right where you were.
On an individual level, this is the basis of friendships and relationships. When many gather around the fire, it becomes a community. Where there’s a community, there’s common interest. And where there’s common interest, there’s opportunity—that's the beauty of a brand community.
That's something we understand at Superside. It's why we're launching our very own brand community, to connect the best and the brightest marketers and creatives organically—without a selfish product push. We get enough of those day to day. The idea of community is fostering a genuine sense of belonging, and generating valuable discussion and connections.
We're taking our community seriously. Are you ready to build yours?
A brand community is a group of consumers who gather around their interest in a brand, or the values the brand promotes. Their relationship with the business goes beyond interest in the product or service, though. Instead, the community forges strong bonds with the business and other users. When done well, this results in brand loyalty, advocacy and increased engagement.
How a brand community congregates and engages often depends on the brand’s level of facilitation. While some brand communities live and thrive of their own accord (e.g. subreddits), the smartest businesses provide the space. These days, that means having an online forum where like-minded users can congregate and discuss topics related or adjacent to the brand.
These communities let people connect with and learn from those with similar experiences—richer interactions than they’re used to in common conversation. This deeper brand connection with an audience allows users and consumers to express themselves, meet and build relationships with other loyal users.
Our beta community is live! Join now and get exclusive perks while we get it up and running.
A brand community serves more than self interest. Having a nice, big prospect pool is often the chief motivator, but the community itself works best when it’s scant on obvious marketing tactics. A brand community shows your brand cares about its field/industry, and those involved with it.
Ironically (and to the marketer’s satisfaction), getting this process right can drive brand loyalty beyond selling simple goods and services.
Some form of brand community will exist without your consent. Social media users assemble around hashtags and groups to discuss products and services every day, so be proactive in contributing to or even managing these interactions to unlock their benefits.
The best thing about brand communities is the benefits both facilitators and users enjoy.
Here are just a few of the significant advantages businesses reap.
One of the first places to start is by learning from the best. Watch this in-depth video about building a thriving brand community with Annette Cardwell, Senior Director of Content at Lattice. Go on, we’ll wait.
Know that some of your consumers may already be talking about your products or services. It could be via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or in a group or forum dedicated to discussing your niche or the void you’ve filled.
Depending on the size of your brand, your options for building a forum could be:
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your brand community.
Figuring out a brand identity should be the first item on your list. Who are you, and what do you bring to the table in your industry? In a rush to get to market, many companies leave this stage fuzzy or undefined. A clear identity is easier to rally around, so nail that before opening the gates
Think out what you’re “about”. These days, consumers want to buy from brands that speak to them. They expect brands to reflect their values on social issues with no clear financial benefit to you.
It's quite common for business founders to have experienced frustration with existing products or services because they were too expensive, too limited, or too demanding of their time. Whatever the story, you can bet there’s a social component to it; one that’ll resonate with your users if workshopped.
Identify the pain points your business alleviates. At Superside, we understood that design was often frustrating and time-consuming for businesses. Making high-caliber design easy is our angle, and it’s a message we make ubiquitous anywhere you find us.
So, before you build your brand community, you should define your:
A good brand has a coherent voice across all its marketing materials, copy, and customer communications. Additionally, it has a consistent look and feel. This is where design is essential.
Brands work because when they’re recognizable at a glance. Good communicates the ethos of your brand through images, fonts, and the overall feel of your marketing materials, website, and communications.
Make a “sketch” of your customer. Who are they, and how does your service help them? Make this a thread that runs through everything you put out into the public sphere. The more you show your audience what you are about, the more your audience can relate to your goals, visions and personality; not just your product.
Are you formal, or fun? Exciting, or by-the-books? This choice will dictate your messaging style, from advertising to how you speak to potential clients.
The tone you strike will often be determined by your product or service. If you work in healthcare, be stern but helpful. If you’re in a creative field, an air of whimsy may serve you better. Think about how you’d talk to your user one-on-one.
Most brand communities have a function. For example, Ninja Foodi has a vibrant Facebook group centered around sharing recipes for the product, and for its various features.
Alternatively, the Go Pro community centers around sharing videos that capture all the extreme ways that the GoPro can be used. Between this, conversations about software, modifications, editing and other valuable tips and tricks emerge.
Ask yourself these questions to determine what kind of community platform will serve you and your users best:
The space you choose for your users should be based on the size of your current audience, and how general or specialized your niche is.
Some of your main options are:
Forum and chat rooms were some of the first places communities sprang up around the internet. Chat rooms are far less common nowadays, but forums are still alive and well.
You can also build a community around hashtags. It’s especially effective if you make user-generated content part of your groups.
You can also create Facebook or LinkedIn groups for your brand. These spaces are different from company accounts, in that they’re solely for sharing content relevant to the brand or industry.
These programs work by rewarding your most loyal customers with discounts, free items, or even ways to make money by promoting your brand.
Some choose to use third-party platforms for their brand communities. Messaging services like Slack or Discord can host user discussions and content.
Knowing who you are and who your audience is, it's time to start fostering and growing your community.
If you want to retain and acquire an audience for your community, you need to give them a reason to come to you and stick around. Doing so insists on creating user value.
Blog posts, explainer articles, competitions, AMA's, and behind-the-scenes content are all ways to give your community deeper insight into topics important to them. You can also use polls, promotions and awards to enhance your audience experience.
Co-created or user-generated content can be a big piece of this puzzle. Similarly, you can use annual in-person meetings or conferences to drive engagement. These tactics create value for the audience, and drive excitement for your brand.
Building your community is just the start, and you’ll need to actively seek new users.
Tactics for getting people in the door are many, and none are mutually exclusive. An SEO-optimized educational blog, for instance, is one way to help audiences find your community. Answering their questions and giving them access to thought leadership and other materials shows them you know what you’re talking about, and can be trusted to facilitate relevant content and discussions.
If you want your community to stand out, you need to leverage fantastic branding. We'll help you.
Knowing everything it takes to build a successful community, here are some examples to inspire you.
Lego Ideas creates user engagement via user-generated content. The toy company invites consumers of all ages to submit their own creations, enter competitions and give feedback and advice on how to make various Lego items.
Given the emotional attachment many users have to Lego’s products and brand values, there’s no better way to build a community than to publicize certain user creations.
Further proving the importance of shared values between brand and consumer, Ben & Jerry’s taps into its origin story of the two hippy friends who founded the company. They’ve built a community around supporting the various social issues that concern them, beyond the release of various frozen treats from grocery freezers around the world.
Their insistence on social responsibility is prominent, and they implore users to get involved in whatever ways they can.
Spotify’s community is where users share and discuss music, suggest platform ideas, and get and give technical support. User-generated content is awarded through the Rock Star program, which offers helpful users the chance to win show tickets, merchandise and more when they answer questions and provide valuable content.
Spotify understands that easy access to artists and their music is paramount to their users, and leverage it everywhere they can.
The Harley Owners Group is an oft-cited example of the potential of a brand community—one you’re sure to hear tearing down your street on an otherwise quiet afternoon. For Harley Davidson fans, loyalty to the brand is about far more than just owning a bike.
The Harley brand knows its base: Being part of the Harley community is a way of life that encompasses freedom, Americanism, and (perhaps ironically) acceptance into a counter-culture community.
Remember that sense of belonging we talked about up top? There’s a place where creatives and marketers like you can go to fill your tank with all the community, ideation, cross-pollination and mild tomfoolery it can hold: the Superside Community. The platform were using is Circle, which allows us to seamlessly bring the at-times-at-odds allies of marketers and creatives together.
In an “all hands on deck” time for most businesses, we’ve learned that creatives and marketers need a space to foster professional growth and better understand how they fit into each others’ worlds. Right now, our community is in Beta, and by joining our test, you’ll gain access to AMAs with top thought leaders in the creative marketing industry, and access to a wide network of professionals who care about what you care about. If you’re one of the first 100 to join, you’ll get a badge indicating your founding member status.
Strong brand communities transcend their products and services. Users align themselves with these groups because they speak to their individuality. They’re more inclined to support brands who support their identity in some way, whether it’s trading stocks or trading grooming tips.
Brand communities offer consumers a way to interact with kindred spirits, and deepen their understanding of things important to them. The smart business is one that puts the first logs in the fire: Giving the audience a place to meet their counterparts, learn new things and extract the most value from your services. Start the fire, and you’ll find yourself with a legion of loyal and vocal advocates that can help your brand grow.
It’s a true community for teachers and learners in creative fields, and we can’t wait to see you there.
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