For most brands, developing a successful, vibrant online community is a primary objective. With the advent of digital, interaction with customers in virtual spaces has become so common that community building is now an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy
In short, digital has transformed how brands communicate, and has provided powerful tools for creating engaged brand ambassadors that can organically nurture and grow an engaged community.
But what is an engaged community? How can you build one? And how can you leverage its power in order to help your brand grow in the digital world? MeltingSpot has the lowdown!
What is an engaged community?
Building a customer community means creating a developing a space where your most loyal customers can evolve into engaged brand ambassadors. An engaged community is a group of people who have found a place where they feel they belong, brought together by a common interest/love for your brand’s products or services.
Being engaged means galvanising the community through dialogue, the sharing of ideas, the participation in virtual events or troubleshooting problems in an online forum.
Building an engaged community means building a real link between your company and its customers. B2B communities are tailored for facilitating dialogue, creating a virtual customer support arena where a customer can simply tag your community manager or moderator and have an instant answer to their enquiry.
This model, which is based on a certain level of transparency that is difficult to reproduce in the physical world, encourages customers to get involved. They can even start sharing creative ways to solve problems with your products or services. Think of it as a pool of creative brainpower free-of-charge!
Community builder: the key to an engaged community
Of course, your engaged community does not appear out of nowhere. To really get it kicked off means developing your brand’s customer community platform, which is overseen by your Community Builder. This person carries out a task somewhat different to your run-of-the-mill community manager or social media manager (two jobs that entail pretty much the same thing).
His or her role is essentially to create, animate and engage with your audience or community. It is a strategic role, designed specifically to nurture and expand your online community, act as the face of your brand in the virtual world or in-person, and help create brand ambassadors within your community who will then go onto promote your brand through their natural enthusiasm and benevolence.
It is a vital role to consider when setting up community building and community management strategies for your brand!
How to engage your community over time
Community building takes time, patience and a lot of hard work. Simply setting up a customer community platform is not enough! It is important to identify the key objectives of your community management strategy. Which products or services are you hoping to promote? Who is your target audience? What tools are you going to use to nurture your community and encourage organic engagement?
Community engagement means making sure you understand your audience, and know how to add real value to interactions within the community. This can be achieved through story telling, encouraging your most engaged community members to participate in the presenting and explanation of your brand story.
It can also means using engaging content. Visuals that foster a reaction from community members are vital to engendering organic interactions between your community members. These images can either directly leverage community feedback, or convey an emotional message that will lead to direct engagement and B2B interaction.
Of course, an engaged, responsive community builder is key to succeeding in all the above. Your brand needs to be represented within the community! The community builder is the harbinger of engagement!
Quality is key!
Bringing real value to your community is key to fostering an engaged audience. What kind of content or information can you make available on your community that is unique and cannot be accessed anywhere else? Relevance and precision are essential, and content that focus on these points are sure to encourage an engaged response from community members.
What’s really great about community building is that you can turn your community members into active participants who can organically encourage further engagement thanks to their enthusiasm for and commitment to your brand.
You get kick this off by running active surveys and polls on your community platform. These are great for getting discussions going, or planting ideas within the community that can then grow of their own accord and foster engagement both on- and offline amongst committed brand ambassadors!
Don’t forget, user-generated content is really popular today! So don’t be scared to ask your community members directly for tips, quotes, photos and the like. Sharing user content shows your community members that you really value their input!
Starbucks, for example, ran a really successful campaign called ‘Meet Me at Starbucks’ back in 2014, which gave customers the chance to win a free coffee if they shared their ‘How We Met’ story. A great way to encourage user engagement!
Bring your community together
Creating and nurturing an effective online community means bringing your community together. As mentioned above, your community platform is the arena where your community will interact, but it is important to go one step further!
Organising events (virtual or real-world) is a great way to get your community together, create links and build relationships thanks to members’ common interest in your brand. It is important to do this on a regular basis, as this will help to build loyalty and boost engagement.
For example, Comexposium organizes "The World Tourism Fair” every year, to federate its community of visitors and tourism professionals. This year, the format has been adapted to a virtual one, using our MeltingSpot tool!
Whatever your online marketing goals may be, an engaged community is crucial if you are to succeed and build a robust online brand presence!