Why Community Marketing Is Crucial To Your Brand
The importance of community marketing should be intuitive. After all, networks of friends and family are what most people plug into when making purchasing decisions. However, digging deeper into this topic, there are several things that are important to consider.
Measure Brand Perception While Community Marketing
If you are going to get people to organically promote your product, they need to be passionate about your brand.
Maybe you are aiming to build a community around your brand. Or maybe you are selling your product to a community that has already formed around a common interest. Whichever the case, it is important to measure the level of brand passion (a.k.a. brand perception) while growing and engaging community.
The measurements of perception will allow you to maximize what return on investment you receive for your efforts.
In this Forbes article, Lara Lee, chief architect of the internationally successful Harley Owner's Group (HOG), recommends that three metrics be measured: loyalty, authenticity, and innovation.
Brand loyalists will defend the brand in their local communities. Authentic brand community members will also be honest about the value of the product. They can be depended on for valuable feedback in your iterative improvement process. Community members are also important for helping a brand innovate when necessary. Lee emphasizes the importance of a community to help improve a brand, and, in turn, for the brand to be supported and used by the community members.
Social Media Communities in Marketing
Social media has changed how people interact with the brands that they purchase.
In this JotForm article, Leeyen Rogers, VP of Marketing at JotForm, points out that people are closer to their brands, since social media democratizes the communication process.
Sharpie is another brand that has built a passionate community. Sharpie leverages social to spotlight members of their community of artists and art lovers. When a member's artwork is shared on Sharpie's social channels, it is viewed as an honor, and these posts are often viewed as something shareworthy.
Community Marketing Before Using Social Media
Kiehl's is a successful example of growing large a large community of brand loyalists before paying for advertising. In fact, Kiehl's has built a world renowned global brand of premium body care products without ever advertising since it opened it's doors in 1851.
How was this possible?
By keeping a close eye on loyalty, authenticity, and innovation. The advertising has been
word of mouth promotion, free in-store product trials, and the personal connections forged by requiring active community involvement of every employee.
Nike is an example of how to build passion around the brand before launching their presence on social media. According to this article by Gary J. Nix, Nike was able to grow a huge following, before ever coming to social media. So when they did come to social media, they already had influencers and fans ready to promote their message on Twitter contests.
Summarizing Community Marketing
In my research on this topic, many authors alluded to community marketing being cheaper than paid advertising. That may be true. But it takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of passion to get communities of people to fall in love with your brand. As you engage in this strategy, be sure to keep three metrics in mind: loyalty, authenticity, and innovation. If you allow the analytics to guide your way to passionate community members, success is sure to follow.