In today’s fast-paced and hyper-connected world, businesses are constantly seeking ways to engage with their customers on a deeper level. Beyond simply selling products or services, savvy companies are recognizing the importance of building a community around their brand. Creating a vibrant, engaged customer community is no longer just a marketing strategy. It’s a necessity for thriving in an experience economy. In this blog post, we’ll explore why fostering a community for your customers is essential for long term success.
1. It helps you further understand your customer’s story
A customer community serves as an invaluable source of feedback. When customers engage with your brand through a community platform, they share their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns openly. This real-time feedback loop can help you adapt your offerings to better meet customer needs and stay ahead of the competition.
Furthermore, a customer community will help you get clear on your target audience. Who are the most active and engaged customers? How are they speaking to each other? What is their platform of choice? When you build a customer community, you’ll learn about your customers’ habits and preferences that will in turn boost your marketing campaigns.
2. It creates a sense of belonging for your customers
Dr. Aaron Ahuvia, a world-renowned expert in Brand Love, believes that companies must get their consumers to think of their brand as a person in order for them to really love it. During our conversation on my podcast, he explained to me, “You have to get their subconscious mind to start thinking about it the way it thinks about people.”
When you build an engaged customer community, your customers won’t just think of your products or services when they think of your brand. Rather, they will associate your brand with the friends or fellow members in the community.
Moreover, Dr. Ahuvia states that the most powerful way to get consumers to associate the brand with a person is when that person is themselves. So, if your customers feel like they identify with your brand and belong in the community, then your brand will quickly become a category of one.
Identity is a powerful thing. Once a customer identifies as a fan of something, it becomes part of the fabric of their everyday life.
3. You can establish yourself as a trusted resource
A customer community is a great way to establish your brand as a trusted resource. By actively engaging with your customers and providing tips and guidance in your field, you’ll boost your company’s credibility and become a go-to source of information. For example, if you work in real estate, you can share your recommendations for local vendors, like plumbers, electricians, or interior decorators. By proactively sharing your advice, your customers will start to think of you as a reliable friend in the community that they can go to with future questions.
When I interviewed James Shaw on the Creating Superfans podcast, he explained that you have to offer value and advice to your customers first if you want them to look at you as someone that can help them.
As the founder of the Pivot: SHIFT Ahead Facebook group and Inspire Mastermind, James knows a thing or two about nurturing a community. He said to me, “What we’ve got to do is position ourselves first as somebody who can help, and then they’ll reach out to you. Because three years ago, people weren’t texting me going, ‘Hey, James, I’ve got this problem. Can you help me?’ But once I started helping them solve their challenges, they started reaching out.”
Ultimately, a strong customer community will cement your brand’s reputation as an expert in your industry and a helpful resource.
4. It shows your customers that you care about them
When you take the time and effort to build and foster a community, your customers will take notice. Interacting with customers on social media is a simple way to acknowledge them and create personalized experiences. Have you ever had a celebrity or major brand ‘like’ something you posted, or ‘share’ an instagram story that you tagged them in? It feels like you’ve actually been seen, right?! Even commenting a simple ‘thank you’ on a post can go a long way with your prospects and customers.
Many entrepreneurs and brands make the mistake of only reaching out to customers when they have something to sell them. When this happens, customers feel like they are nothing more than a transaction.
However, when you have an engaged customer community, your brand is able to connect with its audience in between the sales cycles and form genuine relationships, no dollar signs attached. Eventually, when your customers are ready to make another purchase, your brand will be the first one they think of. Research shows that customers spend 19% more with a brand after joining their online community. Remember, if you want your customers to love you, you’ve got to love them back.
5. It will help you stay top-of-mind
A customer community can help you stay top-of-mind with your customers, even in the most unexpected ways. Perhaps you start a thread about the best type of vacuum to buy, and client A shares her favorite. Maybe Client B decides to buy it, and loves it! Now, whenever she uses that vacuum, she’s likely thinking of that amazing recommendation from your community. Your customers don’t even need to communicate about your business for it to be effective. Every time they hop into the platform, they will see your name or logo and think of your brand.
Nashville’s Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue has a Facebook group for its alumni adopters to connect. Past adopters use the space to share adorable updates on their pets, crowd source training tips, or offer grooming recommendations. Users have connected IRL with their dogs’ littermates and built real friendships through the Facebook group. With the name of the rescue constantly popping up on users’ Facebook feeds, they’re much more likely to recommend the shelter to a friend looking to adopt, or feel more generous toward the rescue when they ask for donations.
Creating a customer community for your brand is paramount in today’s business landscape. Such communities foster deep connections with your customers, elevating your brand from a commodity provider to a category of one. By nurturing a space where customers can connect, you demonstrate a genuine care for their needs, transcending the transactional nature of business.
Moreover, these communities provide invaluable, unfiltered insights into your target audience’s thoughts, desires, and concerns. This information allows you to adapt and tailor your offerings to meet their expectations and stay ahead of the competition. The end result? A stronger bond that can turn satisfied customers into superfans, driving brand advocacy and growth in a way that traditional marketing alone can never achieve.