5 Tips to Create a Brand Community That Grows Your Business for Youby@Taavi Kotka
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5 Tips to Create a Brand Community That Grows Your Business for You

by Taavi KotkaMarch 19th, 2024
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30% of sales for some companies come directly from community efforts. Traditional referral systems are no longer enough. Instead of investing in new customers, you need to empower already invested customers. Successful brands are offering incentives that align with their community’s values and interests.
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Today, every click and scroll holds the potential for a connection with one’s customers, meaning the mix of marketing tactics companies can employ is almost endless. Channels have proliferated and technology has equipped us with more insight into customer behavior than ever before.

In this piece, I want to tell you how to make the most of one of those channels, which is often misunderstood: community. 30% of sales for some companies come directly from community efforts - by which I mean engaging your community through tactics that go beyond referrals and incentives, leading to them actively contributing to the growth of your business - underlining the critical role of community engagement in business success.

But how do you build the right community with the right kind of engagement? Here, I’ll draw on a few community success stories as I distill the essential tips to take to create a powerful brand community that grows your business for you.

1. Forget Transactional Rewards, Opt for Long-Term Relationship-Building Tactics

First, let’s dispel long-held beliefs about incentives and customer behavior. Traditional referral systems are no longer enough. You can give somebody $100 to open up a new current account, but what happens after that?

The customer’s level of engagement will likely drop, as they have no reason to go the extra mile for you, in a world where a customer’s relationship with a brand needs to be deeper to keep them interested.

And these programs often lack the depth needed to foster long-term relationships. They feel transactional and fail to build a genuine connection between users and the company. So rather than investing in new customers, you need to empower already invested customers.

That creates an environment where your customers care about what happens to your business, and your community, too.  Successful brands are offering incentives that align with their community’s values and interests, moving beyond transactions to cultivate a sense of belonging and mutual growth.

For example, offering virtual shares or equity-like benefits to customers can turn them into true partners, creating a more engaged and loyal community.

2. Listen to Your Community to Identify the Right Tech Stack to Engage It

By embracing the emerging technologies that are reshaping how communities interact and grow, you can enhance the community experience, making it more engaging and valuable. The right tech stack can facilitate better communication, content sharing, and member recognition, turning your community into a vibrant, interactive space.

So, it’s important to stay informed of new tech trends, platforms, and behaviors, to show your followers that you’re tuned in and listening to their needs. Peloton, for instance, has built a fervent “fan” community by infusing technology into home workouts, offering immersive, live, and on-demand classes with social features on their equipment.

This setup enables members to join classes, compete, and celebrate achievements together.

The brand fosters a 'Peloton family' feeling, encouraging users to share their fitness journeys on social media, extending engagement beyond the platform. This integration turned Peloton users into enthusiastic brand promoters within their circles.

Selecting a platform that mirrors your community's preferences while offering robust tools for engagement is crucial. This can often depend on the community itself, whether more brand-oriented, like beauty and fitness companies, or more tech-oriented, like Notion.

Regardless, if you have a community and you want to grow it, having a designated space, whether Slack, Discord, Circle, or inbuilt, and listening to trends and community members to enhance it, is a strategy worth the time and research to get right.

3. Create the Best Environment for Active Participation, Recognition, and Ownership

Transitioning from transactional to relational interactions invites your community members to be more than consumers; they become co-creators of the brand experience. As your community grows, creating sub-communities based on specific interests or regions can maintain intimacy and relevance at scale.

Appointing community ambassadors or leaders to manage these sub-groups can help sustain engagement and ensure consistent value delivery across the board.

This strategy not only prevents your community from feeling impersonal as it expands but also leverages the diverse strengths and contributions of your members, further enriching the community ecosystem.

Recognition also goes a long way in building a thriving community. Acknowledge contributions and celebrate milestones to build a culture of appreciation and reciprocity. For instance, recognizing a member's effort with virtual shares or highlighting their success stories can validate their contribution and inspire further participation. Such authentic engagement fosters a strong, committed community that actively supports and amplifies your brand.

4. Emphasize the Community as a Unique Value Proposition

Your community should be more than an accessory to your product and it actually can be a standalone value proposition. Highlighting the unique benefits, insights, and experiences available within your community shifts the narrative from what you're selling to the value of belonging to your brand community.

Marketing your community in this light attracts individuals seeking more than a product— a place to belong and grow.

Take Notion, for example, leveraging its community as a key growth lever right from its early days. Built around productivity and collaboration, the company recognized the power of its users on platforms like Twitter and Reddit, where they shared tips and supported each other. Notion recognized this organic engagement and hired a community manager to tap into community-generated content, such as user-created templates.

This approach not only helped in building brand awareness but also played a significant role in customer activation, upgrade, and expansion, essentially acting as a complement to Notion’s customer service teams globally.

5. Adopt a Feedback-Driven Approach for Continuous Evolution

A community thrives on open lines of communication, and great communities today have mastered the feedback loop. This makes it possible to get your hands on incredible data on what you should go and do more of, and what your customers want and need, without having to spend advertising and research dollars to figure it out.

Encourage your members to share their experiences and feedback, not just about your products or services but also about their broader interests and challenges. This approach not only deepens the community’s connection to your brand but also provides invaluable insights that can drive future growth.

Creating a thriving brand community is an investment in your brand’s future. It strengthens relationships, fosters loyalty, and creates a powerful platform for brand advocacy. Creating a self-sustaining cycle, a community flywheel, will unleash the power of community-led growth.

Community-led growth, particularly when aligned with share incentives, is now becoming a cornerstone for many successful companies. The more engaged the community, the faster the flywheel spins, and the more momentum your growth strategy gains.

With thoughtful planning and the right tools, you can build a community that not only supports your business objectives but also serves the genuine needs of its members. It's a journey that requires patience, innovation, and a genuine commitment to your members. But the rewards are invaluable.