Help your people find their people.
Send a James Bay fan into a mosh pit and you’ll probably kill him (or at least give him a fat dose of PTSD). Send in a metalhead and he’ll be overcome with a warm, fuzzy sense of belonging.
We all belong in different places, with different people.
Consumers want to have meaningful relationships with the brands they buy from. Establishing a genuine connection with your target market means giving them a space where they can come together around shared values.
The past couple of years have seen plenty of brands experimenting with communities with varying degrees of success. Brands who do manage to build communities where their customers can enjoy exclusivity and engagement are reaping the rewards.
Brand communities embrace a certain ethos or ideology shared by each and every member. Think carefully about what unites your audience. Here are some key points to consider.
– Who are they? Think age, gender and geography.
– What industries do they work in?
– What do they care about? For obvious reasons this is the most important one. What is their political stance? Their ethical position?
– How do they speak? What language do they use?
Don’t be afraid to generalise – you want to tap into the beating heart of your audience.
A brand community is built on the collective desire for a great product and/or a sincere service. This means you will need to put your finger on the best way for the experience of your product to be supported in a brand community environment.
Do you want your customers to share photos of the product in action? Do you want to give them a forum to discuss possible improvements? Whatever you go for, be creative, but put the wants and needs of your customers first.
Even the best brands receive complaints and condemnation from all sides on social media. While it can be difficult to keep ahead of criticism, a brand community should encourage criticism and deal with it with patience and good grace; consumers will be more likely to get involved if their opinion has an actual impact or influence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let the people in your community shape your strategy.
Even though brand communities can generate impressive exposure and contribute to a glowing online reputation, you should let your efforts grow organically. Don’t be tempted to build your community according to a fixed plan or idea; chances are it won’t succeed. Your customers know best. Allow for new ways of thinking and allow your community to take shape in its own way.
It might sound obvious, but putting your community before your brand will lead to the most rewarding results. Consumers are smarter than you think and don’t need to see content dripping with your branding to realise it’s the work of your brand. This approach will go a long way towards convincing people of your credibility.
LEGO Ideas –
LEGO is offering its devoted following another opportunity to get creative. LEGO Ideas is a community where members can design and submit their own concepts for new sets. Projects that receive over 10,000 votes from members will be reviewed and possibly picked by LEGO to be created and sold worldwide. The creator gets final product approval, a percentage of sales revenue and is recognised on all packaging and marketing material.
By its own admission, Spotify has a lot of amazing, undiscovered artists that “need a push into the spotlight.” To increase exposure and give unknown talent that all-important break, the music streaming service constantly seeks the opinions of its customers to promote exciting new acts. Most recently, subscribers were asked to recommend their favourite artists with less than 500 followers. This simple move demonstrates that Spotify is interested in making a worthwhile contribution to the music industry, going some way to combat the negative way music streaming services are portrayed in the press.
Manchester City FC –
Nothing says community like standing alongside thousands of other fans in support of your favourite team. Manchester City recognised this when it made the move to overhaul its desktop and mobile websites with co-creation in mind. With the help of focus groups, user tests, prototype designs, and surveys, it knew that supporters would appreciate a mobile first, video rich experience featuring trending and relevant content. The message for fans and followers of Manchester City is that the club has its best interest at heart, both on and off the pitch.