Through social media and community marketing, gaining a sense of belonging and being part of a community has become easier. People generally receive true community support from their family and friends, but brands can also contribute to this feeling of support by building communities for their customers.
In today's consumer market, customers are not only seeking a great product, but an authentic human connection with both the brand and their community of customers. Many are increasingly seeing their buying decisions as reflections of their identities as well as the communities they belong to.
Community development has become a key component of modern marketing strategies. It is a relatively new concept, but the rise of brand communities is a new opportunity for marketers to connect with their customers. Community development is the connection between a brand and a specific community, using a platform to communicate, exchange values and create mutual meaning. The platform does not always have to be digital, and communities do not have to be started from scratch.
Some of the Community Development work that Pink Ship does for Mentor Black Business. The aim is to build and reach a community of black entrepreneurs, providing them with programs and resources to support them, such as free professional headshots.
Community development requires marketers to start conversations, create opportunities for connection (like groups and events) and create meaningful traditions. Community-building is a ongoing, long-term process that requires care and consistency. It is about relationship building which, of course, requires trust and time. It's also important to note that it requires marketers to relinquish some control to their advocates, who won’t always agree with a brand’s ideas or point-of-view.
For Aaron Wallace, we helped build and nurture an influencer community that improved the relationship between the brand and their customers.
1) Improved customer experience
Brands that provide a brilliant customer experience see significant revenue growth, and gives marketers a better understanding of their customers. It offers an authentic touch to handling aspects such as customer feedback and complaints, nurturing advocates and much more. Active community members can provide insightful information that helps brands get to know their customer base and create the ideal customer experience.
2) Increased brand loyalty
Customers are now creating deep connections with other supporters of a specific brand, and even the brands themselves. This type of strong community helps build consistency as community members are interacting with each other and relying on each other for purchasing decisions. For communities with online platforms, brands can also respond to questions or complaints more quickly, and consequently, further increase brand loyalty.
3) Increased word-of-mouth
Plenty of consumers are willing to share their good experiences with others, and strong communities are filled with advocates that can recommend products and vouch for a brand. Building great brand communities creates a channel that can lead to great market insight and organic growth through word of mouth.
4) Humanisation of the brand and customers
Here's where the importance of brand authenticity comes in! Marketing can feel empty or insincere when trying to make customers feel like their human needs are considered. Good community development marketing essentially puts the power in the hands of community members themselves. Members will share their honest opinions on products (for better or for worse), post genuine user-generated content and create their own unique relationships that cannot be replicated by a brand. The end result is a more human, authentic experience for brand fans.
An example of the Community Development work we do for Cloré Beauty and the #CloreCommunity, including facilitating events and initiatives that engage and support them. We create community events that become a valuable resource for local residents, creatives and businesses. Video by community member @thosemillerboys
Communities help to build reputation and set brands up for resilient long-term growth. The most important factor for brands, is to first hold empathy for customers and community members, and then consistently create communication and traditions that help fortify relationships!
Interested in what Pink Ship can do for your community? Get in touch to find out more about our Community Development services.