Today, informed consumers no longer trust the traditional marketing discourse of brands ! There are many competitors on the market and they all offer more or less similar products. Being only present on the web to sell your products and services is not enough anymore. To really stand out from the crowd, to seduce and retain consumers, it is essential to succeed in creating a strong link with the members of your community. The implementation of an effective community strategy will guarantee the development of your business in a sustainable manner in the consumer landscape. Here’s how to do it.
What is an engaged community?
First, let’s review the concept of community and engagement. It is a group of people who gather around a common interest, a project, or an important cause supported by a brand.
Having a large number of likes and fans on social networks does not mean that your community is engaged; it is important that the individuals who make up your community get involved, interact with each other and develop a strong sense of belonging to your group.
What are the steps to follow to build an engaged community?
1- Lay the foundation and define your strategic objectives
Building a community and creating engagement is a complex and time-consuming task! In order not to lose focus and to be as efficient as possible, it is important to think about it beforehand. The following elements will allow all the collaborators of your company to go in the same direction and thus to keep a coherence in all your strategic decisions.
Create your brand identity
Your objective is to succeed in federating the greatest number of individuals around your brand. In order to create engagement, it is necessary that your subscribers identify and adhere completely to who you are and what you offer. So take the time to define all the elements that make up your brand identity: How do you define yourself ? How do you want to present yourself to your audience ? What are the values and principles you believe in and want to convey to your community ? What makes you different from your competitors ? What is your company’s approach and vision ? Etc.
The marketing objectives of your community strategy
Building an engaged community, yes, but for what reasons ? What do you want to achieve by implementing this marketing strategy ? The targeted objectives can be more or less priority and complementary depending on the context:
Develop your reputation and make your brand known;
Improve your image;
Recruit prospects and/or customers;
Increase the conversion rate of your e-shop;
Increase customer loyalty;
Develop your visibility on a particular social network like Instagram;
Share a new product or service with your subscribers;
Get feedback from your customers after using your products and services;
Conduct a survey among your users;
Set up co-creation actions;
Gather customer ambassadors by your side, to develop word of mouth;
Define the target community to conquer and/or retain
Now that you know who you are and what you want to achieve, you need to determine who the members of your community will be… What are the targets that interest you ?
We can’t say it enough, knowing each of your personas inside out is an absolute necessity !
As a reminder, personas are your ideal customers. They are semi-fictional people who each symbolize a consumer profile. To send them the right messages, at the right time, via the right communication platforms, you need to know perfectly: their habits, their expectations, their values and commitments, their needs, their codes, their deep motivations…
All this analysis is essential and will save you precious time for the future !
2- Commit to the right cause
According to a 2018 Earned Brand study conducted by Edelman Intelligence: 65% of French consumers choose to buy or boycott a brand based on its position. Moreover, this study reveals that value-based messages (34%) are more likely to encourage consumers to make a purchase than product-based communication (28%).
As we can see on social networks, the new generations are particularly sensitive to responsible consumption issues and do not hesitate to express it. They are interested in the origin of the product, the manufacturing conditions, the environmental footprint of the brand, etc.
Also, more than a high-performance product or service, today’s consumers expect brands to commit to important societal, environmental, economic or even ideological issues.
That’s why, to unite and engage community members around your brand, you need to identify the right cause and adopt a strong bias !
Commit to a project or an important cause that inspires and makes people want to follow you.
Once you’ve identified your cause, publicly unveil your plan of action to officially engage with your community. This is how you will build a solid relationship of trust with your audience.
3- Rely on the human touch to better engage your community
Consumers who are constantly inundated with ads and messages from all sides are now looking for authenticity, transparency and empathy… They expect brands to sincerely care about their needs, to listen to them, to be responsive and available to answer their questions. Just like a friend or family member would do !
To generate interest and commitment from your community members, you need to show a much more human and sincere face. By adopting a warmer and more approachable attitude, you will be more like the people around you.
This concept of humanizing your brand does not stop at customer service, it goes further. Audiences demand that brands help them in their daily lives, that they give them good advice, that they challenge them and push them to become the best version of themselves !
4- Create a sense of belonging to your community
Everyone will agree, a story told with sincerity and emotion is more memorable. Consumers need authenticity, dreams, and immersion to adhere to a brand’s universe.
Tell the story of your brand’s creation to your subscribers, simply and without filters. This is the best way for all the members of your community to immerse themselves in your brand’s DNA and understand your values.
Do not hesitate to share regularly with your targets, all the moments of life of your company. Social networks are great tools for this ! They allow you to broadcast creative content, to publish videos, to realize lives easily and to share at any moment the daily life of your brand with your community.
For example, you can share:
The steps from the creation of a new product or service to its launch;
The behind-the-scenes of your company, of your manufacturing workshops…
The arrival of your new employees and their role in the company;
Events and highlights;
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that allows you to transmit messages in a less intrusive way than traditional methods.
These stories, shared transparently, allow your followers to identify with you, but also to create a climate of trust, to encourage exchange and to build a privileged relationship with your community. In exchange, invite your customers to share their own experiences and show that you are always listening to their expectations, their needs and their feedback.
Discover TrusttTrustt is a digital marketing solution that allows you to create a virtuous circle between your brand and your consumers.
5- Turn your customers into ambassadors
The challenge of building a community is to succeed in winning over enough members of your audience to create a spontaneous and disinterested attachment.
It’s a fact, if your customers are won over, they will tell their friends and family about your brand as soon as the opportunity arises. True fans of your brand will not hesitate to defend you against your detractors and to answer for you to a bad comment on social media if needed.
This is why it is important to cherish and value these natural customer ambassadors, as they represent a valuable source of visibility and credibility for your targets.
To show them your appreciation and reinforce their choice to belong to your community, you can set up a system of rewards such as gifts, specific advantages, promotions and/or invitations to private events.
You can also send them free product previews to test. In exchange, they will give you detailed feedback on their use.
You can also propose to your community members to participate in the creation of your products or a communication around a subject that is especially important to them. Consumers want to be actors in the life of brands !
This win-win relationship will reinforce their feeling of belonging to your community and will allow you to develop a product or service offer that corresponds to their real expectations.
Finally, when your community members create and share content about your brand on their own initiative, always remember to thank them and highlight them, whether it is through publications on social networks, on your website or in your communications and marketing materials.
Your ambassadors should feel like they are part of a VIP club.
Trustt is a SaaS (Software as a Service) that aims to help brands develop their proprietary community through the implementation of an ambassador program. Trustt’s mission is to guarantee the commercial success of consumer goods brands by bringing them closer to their consumers and by enabling them to federate and build loyalty among the owner communities behind each of their products.
6. Provide real added value to your community members
Obviously, for people to want to support the development of a brand, they must first find a personal interest, a particular value, a real utility and meaning.
Think about why individuals might join your community and what you can offer them to make them want to follow you.
Publish content on topics that interest them and meet their needs and expectations on a regular basis;
Give them a voice and create a space for exchange ! Let them express themselves on topics they are passionate about and connect them with each other;
Make their experience with your brand memorable at every stage of their journey, regardless of the channel they use;
Offer them the opportunity to participate in a great cause;
Set up a system of co-creation of your products or services that allows them to fully express their creativity;
As you can see, if you want to engage your community members and keep them loyal in the long term, you must not only gather them around a common interest, but also make sure that joining your group brings them something personally. Also understand that building a community is a long-term process and requires daily involvement from brands ! Therefore, it is strongly recommended to set up a dedicated team with people whose job it is. A social media manager and/or a community manager will be in charge of animating, creating and publishing content on a regular basis, responding to comments and interactions quickly, which will considerably increase your chances of success in building an engaged community over the long term.