One of the most important ways to boost customer loyalty is by building a community. Even though smartphones and mobile internet connect billions of people, it’s harder than ever to gain trust or loyalty. This is because your audience is inundated with content, including promotional messages from your competitors.
You can advertise to your user base but it’s harder to make them remember you and trust you enough to buy from you. You can manage this distance by creating an emotional connection between you and your audience. And the most practical way to do this is by creating a community.
In this post, we’ll look at how you can leverage social media to build a solid community around your brand. Businesses like Lego, Harley Davidson, and many others have online communities to share ideas. These places offer a curated space for people to share their passions.
For some types of businesses, not having a community is not an option. Coaching, personal wellness, or educational businesses need to develop a community to share information and offer their audience support.
Let’s look at how you can build your own brand community by leveraging social media. We have two main approaches based on the platforms you choose. You can:
- Create a membership site and use social media to draw in more members
- Build your community using social media as your main platform
Each option has advantages and their own problems too. You can also use both options simultaneously.
Whatever approach you adopt, you need to have a clear strategy in place. Let’s get started!
Creating a membership site
A membership site or portal is a gated website where your audience can access content by signing up as a member. You’ll need to have a membership software to do this and create unique content that members are willing to come back for.
You get more control and several benefits by creating your own membership site.
- A membership portal allows you to build your brand image more effectively
- You can add features to your site such as email marketing, online courses, forums, and loyalty programs
- The availability of in-depth analytics
- Complete customization of your membership site
By creating a membership site, you’ll manage your content and users on your own domain. But you’ll still need to market your membership platform and social media is a powerful way to get people over to your membership website. Let’s look at ways that you can funnel your audience to your membership site from Facebook:
- Create a brand page and group and encourage users to follow or join them
- Make use of Facebook’s advertising to create awareness about your membership site
- Run a contest or a giveaway on Facebook and offer them access to free content on your membership site
- Write short, helpful posts on social media and inform your audience that they’ll get exclusive access to a more in-depth post or video on your membership portal
In these ways, you can leverage your social media presence to get more people to your membership area. This will give you the opportunity to build an even closer relationship with your audience.
Community building on social media
Another option where you can build a community is on a social media platform. More specifically, on Facebook which allows you to create private and public groups. You can also start a group on LinkedIn. It’s suitable for professional-level community building and networking. If you’re in the B2C sector, then Facebook makes more sense.
Here are some top reasons to build a community through Facebook Groups:
- Creating a group is free
- Social media is widely used and your audience is already present and active
- They will need to take fewer steps to join a group, while they’ll need to sign up and perhaps add details to join a membership site
- Facebook prioritizes showing content from groups a person belongs to, so this means a better chance of your content standing out
It’s simultaneously clear that there are disadvantages to using Facebook or other groups to build a community.
- There are limitations to the features you can add. You won’t be able to use email marketing, create courses, have groups for subtopics, and more
- Your branding is limited in a group. You can only change your logo and header and don’t have control over the overall appearance
- You won’t get in-depth analytics as you would on your own site
- There isn’t an option to collect payments or sell products within a group
Building and keeping a community together, whether on a membership site or social media, rides on consistent and continuous effort. You need to post content regularly, answer questions, leave comments, and ask your users to engage.
It’s also important to curate and moderate the content in your groups or site. Removing off-topic discussions and making sure that all discussions see engagement and participation is a job on its own. It takes effort but when you have a thriving and engaged community, the pay off is substantial.
When you’ve built momentum in your growing community, you’ll find that your community may even start to run itself. You can set up long-term members to help you moderate, add content, and help other members out.
Another benefit that creating an online brand community is that you’re automatically creating social proof. When you see people invested in a brand, communicating with it, and each other, you can’t help but feel like the business is trustworthy.
Social media can help you build a brand community in two important ways. It can help you market your membership site and drive more members to it. Platforms like Facebook allow you to create groups where you can nurture a solid group that will engage with your brand and each other.
You can also use the two approaches and have them complement each other. There are tools that even allow you to embed a Facebook group on your site.
Depending on your business’s needs and situation, you might want to focus on one platform more than the other.
We’ve just looked at some helpful information to get you started with building your own brand community. Use the ideas given here and it’s certain you’ll find it easier to boost conversions online and get more positive engagement.