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BRAND COMMUNITIES: EXPERIENCE OR KNOWLEDGE?

 

March 2022

To foster a loyal following, brands need to penetrate existing communities with experiences that connect members with likeminded peers, and with the brand itself 

Brands that tap into micro communities to target tribes of likeminded people, can be more personal with their approach, in turn allowing them to better understand and interact with this niche audience 

The three pillars of brand community building are: the right audience, the right platform, the right experience 

Brand communities are not spaces to push your product, they serve members as much as they serve the brand 

TREND

Humans have always sought inclusion over exclusion, membership over isolation, and acceptance over rejection. This craving for connection is usually satisfied by belonging to a community. And now more than ever, thanks to the hyper-connected world, it is incredibly easy to find your community, or even start your own. For these reasons, consumers also look for the same sense of belonging when they consider brands. As a response to this understanding, community-based-marketing (CBM) was born, and though it has been around for decades, the definition has deepened with every new social platform gaining popularity. 

Community-based-marketing: is a type of marketing that serves to further develop existing customers’ connection to the brand and cement it as an important part of the customer’s life. 

Community: A group of people with shared characteristics or interests.

Micro community: A distinctly specialized cluster of people within a community with more niche traits. 

Brand community: A cluster of people that are invested in a brand beyond what is being sold. 

INSIGHT

80% of consumers say that the experience a brand provides is as important as its product and services. 

– However, for these experiences to feel personal, they need to be tailored; and for that to happen, targeting a micro-community is more effective than a larger one. 

55% of consumers expect brands to connect them to likeminded people. 

– Once a connection has been established, consumers are more likely to remain loyal and pick a brand that offers this sense of belonging over competitors. 

EXAMPLES

Duolingo has become a Tiktok sensation, amassing over 3m followers to date, the formula to their success was tapping into a micro community to build their brand community. Instead of leaning into their product, they leaned into the entertainment side of TikTok as the hook to lead the audience to their app. 

Since then, the app has held its position as the #1 education app on the Apple App Store, proving that the backbone of a solid brand community lies in the experience the consumer is subjected to. 

Another brand with a cult-like following is Harley Davidson, their brand community, the Harley Owners Group (HOG), has over 1m members and extends online and offline to connect Harley owners across the country. In addition to fostering member-member relationships, this brand community offers its members special benefits, events, and exclusive access to the Harley brand. 

Adobe, the leading company behind most graphic design software recognized the need for users to congregate in a carefully curated space. The Behance website is the intersection between a social platform and a digital portfolio, this disruptive concept was the catalyst of content + conversation, where loyal Adobe members get to share their work, how-to’s, tool tutorials, and even watch or participate in live-streams. 

BENEFITS

Brand communities serve the members as much as they serve the brand, they escalate customer retention and differentiate the brand from competitors. 

Customers who have a place to express themselves surrounded by likeminded peers will feel a sense of belonging, which will breed loyalty towards the brand. 

Especially when you nurture a safe space for communication, these communities then become a place for feedback, information, and ideas. 

Another huge benefit of a robust brand community is user-generated content, that’s when you know your members have become devoted followers and brand evangelists. 

But if you peel the social aspect and experience behind brand communities, you’ll find what really matters: Zero-Party and First-Party Data. 

Zero-party data is the information that customers intentionally share with you (through surveys, direct communication, etc), such as purchase intentions, personal context, communication preferences, and how they want the brand to recognize them. First-party data is the additional data you can collect as the customers interact with your owned platforms (website, app, CRM, etc.), these details are a clear reflection of the audience. 

A brand community can be the backbone of your company if executed properly. So long as it transforms into a refuge for users, you will be armed with brand evangelists and enough consumer knowledge to grow your brand exponentially. 

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