Brand Community Marketing - A Strategy to Find & Activate Brand Fans
Brand Community Marketing5 MIN READ
The key to building a brand community is knowing who your customers are and which of those customers are more than one-time buyers. The first step in any Community Commerce strategy is knowing who makes up your brand community.
A Brand Community is a group of people that have a relationship with or affinity to a brand. These people include customers, employees, social followers, partners, complementary brand customers/followers, and more.
What you’re looking for are brand fans. Whether you realize it or not, you likely have many buyers who actively talk about you to their friends, mention you online, and more.
According to HubSpot, the average buyer talks about brands 90 times a week. That means that there is a strong chance that your buyers and followers brag about your brand to their own friends, family, and followers, too.
What Tactics Can You Use to Find Brand Community Members?
Use Social Listening Tools & Tactics
Social listening is anything you do to track where and when customers talk about you online. It is the foundation of brand community strategy.
Basic social monitoring is simple. You can search for your brand name on Instagram and TikTok (for lifestyle accounts), Facebook (most popular), and Pinterest (for visual products).
If you're active on social media, you'll notice when certain social users tag your brand or products. Some marketers also dig into their analytics to find out who shares their branded posts or sends traffic to their website.
After performing a brand search for 10-15 minutes a day over a week or two, you'll have an idea of how many brand advocates are active online around the small group of social platforms you monitor.
Take note: this isn't a one-time activity - it's something that needs constant effort. That's why many eCommerce brands leverage a social listening tool to track mentions automatically.
Identify Influential Customers & Followers
One of the most effective ways to find your biggest brand fans is to determine which of your repeat customers maintain large followings on social media.
According to Forbes, influencers that nurture smaller audiences enjoy 60% more meaningful engagement and 20% more conversions for the brands they partner with.
Some brands find this information by encouraging customers to share their Instagram handle (or preferred social channel) in their account info. It's often a good idea to incentivize customers to add this information to their online accounts.
If you're diligently monitoring your brand mentions (see social listening above), you'll quickly notice when your influential customer attracts hundreds of likes, shares, and comments on a post that tagged your brand. You should try to engage those posts with likes and positive comments to demonstrate your desire to connect.
Using a brand community tool like CIPIO.ai, you can easily upload your customer list and see which customers maintain large, engaged followings of like-minded consumers.
Think About Complementary Brands (Affinity Brands)
One brand's customers are another brand's target market. The more brands can identify other brands that complement their business and connect with those customers on social media, the better they can maximize brand awareness and increase brand value.
By looking at those people who follow brands that complement yours, you can identify brand influencers and extend your reach with their audience. The result is increased awareness for both brands, as well as greater value for both audiences.
Source: Grove Brands
Because the complementary brand aligns well with your own, you can rest assured that their brand fans are more likely to love your brand, too. To activate those communities, consider reaching out to the brand and a few of their community influencers. Ask them to include one of your products within an existing campaign, and see what happens.
Once your brand community is live, you can also ask your active community influencers to recommend complementary brands and help you grow your audience.
Questions to Ask Before Launching a Brand Community Program
What do you want your community to accomplish?
Your brand community can accomplish a lot of things. For example, the brand managers at Entenmann's wanted to reward their brand community for being so supportive, so they launched a contest inviting them to share recipes using their products.
But brand communities can do more than raise awareness for your products. They also can drive sales, subscriptions, web traffic, boost your brand's follower count, and so much more.
Once you decide on your goals, you can plan suitable campaigns to achieve those goals.
Why should your customers and fans join your community?
As you examine your marketing goals, consider why brand fans and community influencers should join your brand community. What sets your brand apart from the competition? And what value can you offer your community?
To answer these questions:
- Consider your mission and values.
- Think about your brand community as a group of like- minded people who love what you do and are inspired by your brand.
- Note all the ways you can bring your unique brand presence to the forefront and enable members to connect with one another in a meaningful way.
It's a great idea at this point to gather feedback from your happiest customers. Ask them to share why they love your brand so much in their own words. You can also ask them whether they would be interested in joining your community and what they'd hope to get out of it.
How can you incentivize members of your brand community?
It's not enough to ask your influential customers to do you a favor. There needs to be something in it for them.
Different members will value different things. Some members (such as brand advocates) don't need much by way of incentives to promote your brand. For those people, discounts and free products are more than enough.
But if you want to activate community influencers who create lifestyle content full-time, you'll need to compensate them. Keep in mind that many brands will outsource much of their social content to relevant influencers. These individuals do a much better job creating authentic images, videos, and posts than production companies and are also more affordable.
If you're leveraging brand community leaders as ambassadors or affiliates, you should create a commission structure to share profits.
Who makes the best community leaders?
The best brand community leaders are people who can make an impact by being credible and approachable enough to excite their own fans to join your company.
In short, the perfect community leaders are community influencers. At CIPIO, we characterize these individuals as being...
- Real - They are not fake influencers who buy followers, and they are not celebrities who are out of touch with their audiences' day-to-day. The vast majority of their followers and engagements are genuine and meaningful.
- Relevant - There is alignment between your industry and their personal brand and content.
- Reachable - They post among followers who see the majority of their posts. Note: Mass followers follow thousands of accounts and rarely see all the posts that others post. Influencers with too many mass followers have low "reachability" in that those followers don't see most of their posts.
When you have real, relevant, and reachable community influencers among your list of customers, you can equip them to become community leaders for your brand. Not only will they mobilize their audience to join your team, but they can also connect you with more community influencers.
What offers can you use to convert more customers?
Once you have brand ambassadors and influencers leading your community, you can use a variety of offers that your brand community leverages to help you drive brand awareness and conversions.
Here are a few popular options:
1. Gift cards
Limited-time offers exclusive to your brand community's followers are among the most powerful offers. Consider distributing gift cards as a prize or “thank you” in conjunction with a first-time, specific product, or minimum-dollar-amount purchase. These gift cards can be to your eCommerce store or from an affinity brand.
Giveaways and contests boost user- generated content online and result in new customers. The prize can be selected products from your inventory, and participants can join by engaging your brand on social media. Mobilize your brand community members to help you promote the virtual event in their social posts.
3. Discounts/coupon codes
Not only do people love discounts, but coupons are also a great way to track which of your brand community members are producing the best results. Consider setting up codes or affiliate links unique to each community member that wants to promote your brand.
Once you've laid the foundation to bring members of your audience together around value that your brand provides, you can start to plan brand community and community influencer marketing campaigns. Brand community marketing is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to decrease your dependence on paid advertising in favor of organic growth.
According to Nielsen and Referral Rock, word-of-mouth increases someone's willingness to buy by 400%.
Thanks to Community Commerce tactics, you can grow your brand from within, lower you customer acquisition costs, and increase customer loyalty, all by tapping into your brand community.