If you build it, they will come.
By giving consumers a place to gather around shared values, you can build a community of fans who truly experience (and engage with) your brand instead of simply buying your products or services.
Each brand community should be tailored to your specific industry and the needs of your target audience. Here’s how to get started:
Know Your Audience
The first step is getting to know your audience on a personal level. If you gain a deep understanding of their lifestyles, goals and aspirations, you can better demonstrate how your brand aligns with those values.
Try creating a persona that embodies your target consumer, assigning specific priorities, hobbies, motivations, and obstacles to the fictional character. In short, what drives him or her? This exercise will give you a clearer idea of what kind of outlet or event your fans in particular will be drawn to.
Think Outside of the Box
Get creative when it comes to how you bring people together. Whether it’s hosting an event where they can meet in person or starting an online forum that promotes discussion, pinpoint the type of community that will most effectively encourage your consumers to identify and connect with the brand.
AirBnB thinks outside of the box by inviting users to design their own logos symbolizing what makes their homes and communities so special. The brand has clearly defined who their fans are and what kind of community best suits their interests and values.
The best brand communities are functional, but also serve as a creative outlet for fans to express themselves freely.
Join the Conversation
Once you’ve built a thriving brand community, take it a step further by taking part in the conversation. Respond to comments, answer questions, and really get to know individual members of your fanbase. This type of personal engagement helps you learn more about your target audience while demonstrating your appreciation for their ongoing support.
When coffee lovers become members of the My Starbucks Idea community, they gain the opportunity to suggest corporate changes. The brand reviews each and every suggestion, posting frequent updates as the ideas are put into execution. By acknowledging and implementing ideas from dedicated fans, Starbucks has managed to gain over 150,000 registered members in just a few short years.
Stay True to Who You Are
Once you’ve built your brand and community around a set of values that resonates with your target audience, it’s important to stay true to who you are. Look for ways to reinforce the alignment between your brand persona and the interests of your supporters.
It’s hard to discuss authenticity without mentioning Apple — after all, the brand has been named the World’s Most Admired Company every year since 2009. What’s their secret? Apple built more than a great line of products. The brand’s true merit lies in its unwavering devotion to its core values. By creating and publishing content that speaks to those values, Apple continuously reminds fans why they fell in love with the brand in the first place.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.