The old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” has never been more relevant than it is today. With the rise of social media and online communities, people are connecting with their peers (and potential customers) more closely and with interesting effects.
There’s been a shift towards building a community rather than just pushing messages in the hopes of netting a few customers.
We’ll explore this phenomenon in this post by looking at what community marketing is, why it matters, and how you can implement it for your business.
What is community marketing?
Community marketing is the process of designing and implementing programs that engage the customer, the company, and other groups in mutually-beneficial relationships.
In today’s world businesses are trying to grow their social media following and they’re only looking at half the picture.
Instead of trying to get followers, you should be connecting with people so that you go beyond transactional relationships. Community marketing is the deliberate pursuit of building a community around your brand. It’s also a way to indirectly promote your business without adopting a ‘push’ marketing strategy.
Why carry out community marketing?
Community marketing is a long-term activity that can be inexpensive.
When you’re focused on building a community, you do the following:
- Create helpful blog posts that answer people’s questions in a non-promotional way
- Listen to what people on social media are saying about a subject
- Engage with your audience on social media by joining conversations or giving solutions away for free
In general, your focus is on driving communication. You’re not leveraging paid ads or using tactics like FOMO to get people to buy from you.
Instead, you’re looking for ways to create value and a reason for people to come back time and again. As a result, you build more of an emotional connection. You create trust. And you have an inexpensive but effort-fueled way to get more people to engage with you.
The most impressive outcome from community building and marketing is that your reputation speaks for itself. There’s nothing like a vocal community around a brand to get wider audiences interested in your business.
Ways to build your community and market to them
There are several ways you can build your community online and market to them. Let’s break down the best platforms and techniques that you can use to kickstart your business’s community marketing.
Start a Facebook group
A Facebook group is a great tool for engaging with your members. You can create private groups where content is only visible to members. And by doing so, you connect your audience to a support network and create a place where you can share files and resources easily.
It’s a free and accessible way to develop a hub for your brand.
However, avoid focusing on your product or business alone. Instead, look at the major problems your customers face. Make the focus of your group and even the name around the problems you want to solve.
For my business, we’ve created a Facebook group titled ‘WPBeginner Engage – WordPress Help for Non-Techies’ rather than just ‘WPBeginner’.
The title is descriptive and focuses on what we really do – help people solve their WordPress problems. Think about how you can help your customers and build your group around that.
Leverage email marketing
Email marketing can help you build a community. It’s a low-cost, personal way to reach your customers by providing people with interesting content in their inboxes.
Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig has a widely read column and newsletter that goes out every week. The author engages readers by asking them a question at the end of the email.
The next week, he features the most interesting answers. He also features comments left by people in his blog posts and replies to them.
In this way, thousands (and more) of people get great content and feel a sense of community from this type of engagement.
Create a membership site
A membership site is a limited-access area where only registered users can communicate with each other and consume content.
This can be better than creating groups on LinkedIn or Facebook or using discussion forums like Reddit, since you can brand it with your own colors and graphics. Doing so reinforces your brand image and lets users know that your membership space is exclusive.
You also create value and a sense of belonging as you enable people to have discussions, answer questions, and learn from each other.
Host events and meetings
Today, you can easily host meetings and events with the help of online conferencing tools. Facebook allows you to create a ‘Room’ where you can have text and video conversations with members. And Clubhouse is a relatively new voice-based app where people can get on to Rooms and speak about their interests in a subject.
Host events and come up with interesting themes for such programs. When you get people to join in and participate, you help them connect with your brand forming the central hub supporting the entire experience. In this way, you can turn experiences into meaningful associations where your audience feels more strongly connected to each other and your brand.
Create live videos
Platforms like YouTube and Facebook allow you to go live right from your desktop computer and phone apps.
Live videos are highly engaging as they happen in real-time. They make it possible for content creators and the audience to respond to each other instantaneously.
I’ve held live Q&A sessions on our Facebook group to talk to our audience directly. It helped our audience feel like there are real people behind the brand and it showed that we were invested in helping them out.
Plan and promote live video content for your audience. It’s more exciting and shows that your brand is active and willing to engage people.
Community marketing is an indirect way to promote your business. Your goal is to first connect with your audience beyond transactional interests.
And the reason for doing this is because people are looking for social connections online today. This extends to businesses too.
When you carry out community marketing, you engage people and focus on building long-term relationships. As a result, when you do actively promote your products and services, your audience will be receptive because you’ve clearly invested a significant amount of time to nurture your relationship with them.
I’ve shared what community marketing is, why it matters, and how to go about building it for your business. Don’t wait to get started. Take your first step today to stand out from your competition and win customers.