Growing Your Brand Community
Updated: Mar 18, 2021
Your brand can bring people together, inspire action, and create advocacy that delivers big results for your business.
Community Builds Connections
I pass this Little Free Library on my walk every morning. I’ve borrowed and added to it many times – grateful for the books that made a long plane ride more bearable and happy to share a book that’s inspired or moved me in some way.
What I love about this little library is the sense of community it represents. I don’t know whose books I’ve enjoyed, or who’s reading the books I’ve shared, but I know we’re all connected by our love of reading and our shared access to this little library.
We all crave community. And one the best ways to grow your business is to build a community around your brand. A brand community is a group of people with a shared set of interests who are attached to the idea your brand represents. In other words, your brand brings them together. They are often your most loyal customers and the one’s most likely to recommend you to someone else.
Build Your Brand Community With Purpose
No matter what platform or format you use to build your community (e.g., e-mail, in-store events, blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), these five tips will help get you started, keep your community engaged, and encourage them to rave about you to others.
Tip #1. Know Your Tribe
Everything starts with your customer so it’s an absolute must to know them inside and out. Take the time to build an Ideal Customer Profile to help you visualize who they are and what they care about (for more information about this, see my blog Creating An Ideal Customer Profile). Remember – this is the customer who will take the time to get to know your brand and advocate for you, so you want to engage with them like you would an old friend. Once you know the ins-and-outs of your Ideal Customer, writing and creating content that draws them in becomes much easier and will feel more authentic.
Tip #2. Remind Them of Your WHY
Your brand community is attached to the idea your brand represents. Yes, they may love your product or your service, but those things may change or evolve over time, so you want to keep the attachment at a higher level – what’s core and essential to your brand. Let’s use Nike as an example. Nike makes shoes (among other things) but in building their Run Club community they focus on their WHY (connecting people to the athlete inside of them). They encourage people who love running to stay consistent, press forward, go harder, achieve their goals. The shoes become a means of achieving the WHY that connects them to the Nike brand.
Tip #3. Share Your Knowledge
Building a brand community is about sharing – not selling. You’ll find more success building a brand community by sharing helpful information that matters to your ideal customer than pushing products. This is an opportunity to use your brand to connect with your community AND to connect them to each other – creating a ‘magic community triangle’ of brand advocates.
Wondering what to share?
Refer back your Ideal Customer Profile and use the knowledge you’ve captured around their hopes, fears, challenges, interests, etc. to create content that matters to them and reinforces the WHY of your brand. For example, the Nike Run Club offers training workouts, nutrition guides for runners, tips for setting and achieving goals, music playlists, mindfulness tips to train beyond the gym, expert trainers and a podcast that shares thoughts on the future of fitness. And, they offer an App that helps runners connect with other runners. They consider the whole athlete and share information that will help their community stay engaged and active.
Tip #4. Let Them Inside
Your brand community has opted in and wants a peek inside the inner workings of your brand. For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, that mean they want to know more about YOU. This can be scary because it requires vulnerability. You can set the boundaries, but generally this means sharing genuine, authentic content that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of your product or service. So, let them how you really think or feel about issues that are important to your brand (for example, a restaurant owner may want to share their passion for sustainable farming, or a jewelry designer may want to share who or what inspires their designs). Don’t be afraid to share both the opportunities and the challenges you’re encountering in your business. And remember to treat them like a special friend by making sure they’re the first know about new products and services and giving them special access.
Tip #5. Make Them Feel Seen and Heard
Community is about give and take. Your brand community cares about you and wants to see you succeed. Give them the opportunity to offer their thinking and opinions on what you’re doing right - and wrong. They may offer criticisms, but with the intention of making your brand stronger. Make sure you’re asking them questions, providing mechanisms for feedback, and taking the time to respond to them with some degree of personalization. Remember, the comments and feedback they share with you can spark new product or service ideas, provide insights into how to build your brand on new platform, or give you permission to open a new revenue stream – so listening and responding to your brand community is key to successfully growing your business.
Keep Your Brand At The Center
Remember, your brand is at the center of this community so take care to be true to the idea your brand represents and use it to guide your content and your actions.
Building and nurturing a brand community is one on the best ways to gain valuable customer insights, foster brand loyalty, and encourage advocacy.
Best of all, it’s under your control!