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Going From Strength to Strength – The Best Strategies for Growing a Community

How to build, grow and foster a community

Emma Unwin, M&C Saatchi TALK

Senior Social Account Director

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The overall aim of a community is for it to be self-sustaining. When a brand is looking to build one, it should focus on not being the main voice within the group. Instead, a brand should act as the facilitator for people to talk openly about whatever the defining subject matter is. 

Obviously, a community can be an important place to encourage and host conversations and for the community to thrive, they must be invested in the topics and issues being discussed – it’s about substance, authenticity, and relevancy. Whether it’s comical or serious, brands must remember the need to focus on issues that matter to their target market to engage with them effectively and in turn build a valuable community. 

A community is a place for inclusion; a place where people learn and grow and build relationships over common goals and interests.

Emma Unwin, Senior Social Account Director at M&C Saatchi TALK

With the growing popularity of community-first social platforms, such as BeReal or Discord, it is clear that audiences value meaningful conversations between each other. Brands should recognise the power of these conversations to drive change.  

The steps to establish a community 

We believe there are a series of steps that should be taken to establish your community and allow it to flourish. These include: 

  • Defining your audience. Who will your community serve and how will you go about serving them? 
  • Promoting the group across existing established platforms to determine initial community growth.
  • Plan ways to contribute to the community. How can you as a brand initiate relevant conversation and encourage continued interaction between the community.
  • Tap into advocates within your community. Encourage them to take a sense of ownership over the community to increase investment in its long-term success.
  • Build partnerships with other group owners and active forum moderators to cross promote one another’s communities. Reach out to influencers in your community ‘space’ to actively talk about the community and encourage further acquisition. 

The business benefits of creating a community

Consumers today expect different relationships with brands. They don’t just want a customer support email address and a newsletter; they want deeper 1-1 interaction with the company to build long term trust and loyalty. Brands need to keep this in mind when they come to creating a community, as they’ll then be able to reap the associated benefits. 

Communities help brands learn. Being part of a community full of diverse individuals allows you to learn and become familiar with new ways of living and thinking. This ultimately helps inform insights into who your target audience is and how your brand can create a product or service that solves a problem or serves a purpose. 

They also build your network. Forming relationships within your community can get you a long way. Maintaining kindness, respect, and a consistent engagement with the people in your community will make audience members more likely to talk about your business outside of that community, and drive increased positive sentiment. 

When communities feel invested in your brand, they are more likely to naturally shout about the work you are doing with others around them, becoming natural advocates for your business and therefore building traction online. 

Monetizing communities for the benefit of the business 

Communities are incredibly valuable and bringing people together who share common values or interests can provide additional monetary benefits for brands. If you’ve already done the work of building an active community, then you’re in a strong position to start thinking about monetizing it. 

There are several ways that this can be done, depending on what your brand is and what the product or service is that they offer.

Charge for membership - Create a paid membership level to your community by charging a monthly or yearly fee to get access to on-demand tools or content. With this monetization strategy, you need to ensure you’re providing enough value to be worth the cost.

Sell products to your community members - When selling the right products to your community, you have to make sure the products on offer match the audience you’ve developed. Ensure they are relevant to the interest and passion points of the community you are trying to build. Make your sales posts are as natural and consistent with your other posts as possible. You want them to be a fit with everything else you post.

Organise events - Events are both a way to bring your community closer, and an opportunity to generate more income. You can organize small meetups that bring certain attendees in your community together and let them interact in person around a topic that matters to them. Charge a fee for attending or to make the events go even further, use them as an opportunity to showcase specific products or services to your community.

Maintaining and nurturing a business community for the better 

A proven way to maintain a community is by asking questions to create conversation. By posing relevant questions or seeking opinions on matters related to the interests or passion points of that community, the content can then act as catalyst to drive ongoing conversation.  

Listening, and actioning what you hear makes members of your community feel valued. Take into consideration their feedback and suggestions and ask for their opinions when it comes to new business or product developments. This will make members feel both valued and wanted, as well as having a direct effect on their engagement within the community. 

It's vital to show appreciation for the group by thanking your members. It could be via a personal note or group communication. Either way, a thank you note always makes people feel good and motivated which in turn will help strengthen your relationship. By giving your members some other benefits. It could be a sneak peek of products and/or innovations before anyone else is privy to them, or exclusive discounts on items relevant to the community. 

Future proofing 

A community is a place for inclusion; a place where people learn and grow and build relationships over common goals and interests. 

For businesses, a community is a place where your customers build relationships with each other and your brand. By creating an ethos of helpfulness, you’re creating an open environment where your customers or community members can learn and share. And once they’ve learned from others, they’ll be more likely to return the favour.

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