When you Tweet out a brand hashtag, attend a brand event or interact with a brand in other ways for the latest, coolest campaign you are adding to a brand conversation, and you are participating with a community around a brand. It’s all part of a marketing strategy, but it doesn’t feel pushy or promotional. Why? Because the consumer is willingly participating in the conversation and the community, which ultimately makes the entire experience more authentic. Check out this blog article for some examples of what community marketing can include.
Community marketing focuses on existing consumers, and engaging them in your brand.
This leads us to community marketing and why it matters.
First, Let’s Talk About Community.
A community is a group of people that share common beliefs, interests and goals. Communities are also social organizations, and can share similar cultures. As humans, we naturally gather into communities, and we thrive in them as social beings. This is good news to marketing, and may be interesting especially if you enjoy the psychology behind marketing.
Communities share among themselves, and this is where word-of-mouth marketing and active consumer interaction come into play. If you can engage your current customers, you can continue to build relationships with them. This is an entirely different approach than marketing to potential consumers.
Communities become brand advocates, and typically we also see the innovators and early adopters in communities. An overplayed, but valuable example is Apple enthusiasts. Apple has built one of the strongest communities surrounding their brand. This community is rooted in the fact that they believe in the vision of Apple, and they support it 100%. This is why people line up for hours for new releases, and why people will argue undoubtedly why Apple is better than any other personal device brand. The Apple community will share why they love Apple with friends, family and even strangers, creating a network of Apple advocates around the world.
To discuss and illustrate this point let’s start with an example.
Fitbit, the smart fitness device has created a community to help people support one another through their fitness goals. Fitbit uses a game-type setup through their app and website to get users to compete with friends and family. This creates a culture of support, and a little bit of healthy competition, among users. The seamless integration of the software with the fitness device is a great selling point, and the competition that users have with one another gets them talking about the Fitbit and spreading the word.
Why Should You Create a Conversation?
Conversations are one way to create authenticity and trust with your consumers. While social media is the one platform we may think of when creating and sustaining conversations with consumers, there are other ways to do it. Community marketing can happen wherever the community is, and the conversation should be something the community is interested in.
One of the struggles that marketers have when trying to have a conversation with a consumer is how to make it seem authentic. One of the best examples of where these authentic and real-life conversations take place is on Snapchat. This Hubspot article goes into depth about it, and brings up some great points. Two of the points that the article makes are that Snapchat “enables realness” and “puts social media back into these personal, organic moments”. This one-to-one type interaction enables conversation from a brand to the consumer in a more authentic and down-to-earth kind of way. While Snapshat is just one example, the important thing to keep in mind is that it’s all about authenticity and being real with consumers.
Marketing is trending towards more authentic experiences and interactions and building and sustaining communities. Real life, down to earth brands are characteristics that consumers are looking for and willing to support. Having a brand community and participating in conversations with consumers are two ways to enhance a brand. Are you involved in any brand communities? Do you participate in brand conversations? Tell me below and Tweet me @akannakeefe with the hashtag #mymktgstory.