Engagement is the name of the game when it comes to increasing audience participation and conversions. Today’s consumers want value and convenience from companies above all else. And branded online communities are now more important than ever before, with studies showing an 81 percent uptick in online community engagement since the onset of the pandemic.
In this guide to building a community around your small business, we’ll explore the importance of community in building brand reputation. We’ll also offer up a few easy community-building tips that any small business can implement.
- Why is community important for your brand?
- How to create a successful brand community
- Tools that can support your community
- Small business community ideas
- Community-building best practices
Why is community important for your brand?
Community is important for your brand because it’s the starting point of your business relationships. While local, traditional communities aren’t disappearing anytime soon, they’re also not what they used to be.
The internet allows for connections that weren’t possible just a couple of decades ago. A rise in international business and e-commerce are just a few effects of the pivot toward digital that every business should consider.
Consumers are hungry for authentic, personable brand relationships in a social-media-savvy world where a purchase essentially counts as a vote. Communities are the perfect places to relay your business’s story, connect with consumers on a more personal level, and ultimately drive meaningful conversions for your brand.
How to create a successful brand community
Where do you begin when building a loyal community around your brand? It can feel overwhelming, but these tips will get you off the ground in no time.
Build internal community first
Community cultivation starts at home. Before branching out via social media and events, ensure your internal team is on the same page. Offer them a clear vision of your company’s mission and give them the tools necessary to deliver that vision to consumers as well.
Explore new ideas for employee engagement if necessary. At this stage, it’s often wise to find your niche and determine how your team can best provide value outside of your standard product and service offerings.
Rally behind a philanthropic cause
The most successful purpose-driven organizations make a habit of championing worthwhile causes. While your products or services may be helpful to consumers, you can make more of an impact in your community by supporting a nonprofit organization. You could create special products or services that generate awareness and donations for a particular cause, or you could set aside time for your whole company to spend volunteering.
Provide value to your customers
Outside of your own product and service offerings, you should also provide valuable content to your audience. Informative emails and blog posts, for instance, allow you to establish yourself as an industry leader and provide value to everyone, not just your current customers. When prospective customers repeatedly learn from your content, they’re far more likely to become paying customers in the future.
Tools that can support your community
Once you’ve mastered the art of providing value to your customers, it’s time to double down with the help of community-supporting tools. Some of the top tools for growing and maintaining your brand community include social media management platforms, customer engagement platforms, and CRM software.
Social media management platforms
Don’t underestimate the power of social media sites for community-building. They’re the modern-day town squares, where brand mentions, likes, and engagement act like word-of-mouth referrals.
However, it can be difficult to create a targeted social media presence that fosters engagement. Social media management platforms can help ease some of that burden through automated posting and analytic reports.
Customer engagement platforms
Customers today want to be seen as more than just a number—they want personalized marketing materials and conversations geared directly toward their needs.
Customer engagement platforms can help you reach your targeted marketing goals. These tools can assist you in identifying pain points and better understanding consumer loyalty patterns.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool can give your business an even more in-depth overview of customer data and trends. Campaign and contact management features, for example, offer unique overviews of your marketing processes, so nothing ever falls between the cracks.
Read more: Best CRM Software for Small Business
Small business community ideas
If you’re struggling to get a community-building campaign underway, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Whether online or in print, newsletters can be helpful and entertaining for your audience. Their primary purpose is to inform consumers and position your company as an industry thought leader. They can also serve as a way to connect audience members with each other. Consider sprinkling your newsletter with the occasional sale or promotion, but keep it largely informative.
Streaming and live events
Streaming events are another great way to offer free value to your audience. Invite an expert to discuss a hot industry topic or hold a Q&A session with your audience. Either way, you’re providing useful information to a highly interested audience. The next time they need a service or product, they’ll turn to your business first.
Community-building best practices
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Building a community takes patience, dedication, and a lot of attention to detail. In the process, consider making use of analytics tools to determine which engagement tactics are working and which aren’t.
Asking your community for feedback is another direct approach — after all, what better place to learn consumer preferences? After some time, your brand’s community will flourish, offering new avenues for customer acquisition and conversion.