Opinions expressed by businessman the collaborators are theirs.
In today’s era of web transparency, consumers are gaining more access to companies’ facts and opinions. From social media channels to the realm of e-commerce, there is a wealth of information to digest, and consumers make informed decisions based on that data.
The question is, how should employers react to this? More importantly, how do they act on this behavior to impress consumers and gain a competitive advantage? There is no doubt that there is an opportunity to engage with consumers who are actively researching your brand. But what’s the most effective way without sounding tacky or pushy? It’s all about commitment. Engaging with consumers with complete transparency is the key to elevating your business and building trust with people who believe in your brand and purpose.
But many businesses don’t trust building an online community for their brand. For some it seems labor intensive, and others feel they don’t have the time to manage another platform. But communities can strengthen brand awareness, trust and loyalty. Next, I’ll discuss the four key benefits of building a community:
Related: How to Build Your Own Online Community
1. Increase your brand awareness
We all understand the power of word of mouth. It is the oldest form of marketing; centuries later, it is still as striking. Semrush shared that 64% of marketers agreed that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
It’s clear that people look to friends and family for business recommendations. A study by Annex Cloud showed that 91% of millennials said they would consider buying a product if a friend recommended it. It is an important part of a business and should be added to your business strategy.
People who speak positively about your business are essentially unofficial brand ambassadors. Brands often invest the time and effort to reward these ambassadors to foster loyalty. It may seem time-consuming, but consumers appreciate being rewarded and brands see the value of this investment.
2. It encourages dynamic relationships
One of the most valuable things communities allow businesses to do is listen to their customers. Communities facilitate growth, but they are also a great source of business feedback and honest feedback.
Customers are quite transparent about their experiences within the communities. They may not be as sincere and honest on social platforms. Some companies find this daunting, but others embrace it. My thoughts? Do the latter. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is valuable to an organization.
If people are constantly giving you negative reviews about a specific product, your delivery method, or your e-commerce site, there’s likely a void to fill. Reviews speak volumes, and customers are the ones who walk the entire user journey from start to finish. Ninety-seven percent of online consumers read reviews before making a purchase. Buyers have information and experience that is indispensable to you – use it well.
Related: 5 Ways to Connect with Your Online Community
3. Create a higher level of customer service
Communities create a platform for people to share their experiences, but buyers also use communities to ask for help. Customer support is an important part of running a business, and impactful communities help advise members.
Supportive conversations also provide a sense of camaraderie and encourage other members to share, learn and participate more often. Fostering discussion is the greatest asset for businesses that own a community. It gives shoppers a more moving experience than just watching a how-to video or how-to blog article.
This is because humans connect with humans. Bryan Kramer, creator of There is no B2B or B2c – it’s human to human #H2h, refers to H2H as “the charming side of humanity” that speaks of understanding, empathy and forgiveness. He shares that communication needs to be “genuine and simple” and that people need to respect and understand that we are all multi-dimensional humans. Humans make mistakes, are curious to learn more, and crave connection with others.
It’s a perfect tie-in with communities – people get a chance to connect and help each other. It’s customer support, engagement and appreciation all rolled into one.
4. Cultivate brand loyalty
When community members feel heard, appreciated and know they are part of a society that understands them, they tend to stay. Brands are starting to see the role their community plays in their level of success, especially in a digitally-led world.
Let’s look at it from this angle: there are only twenty-four hours in a day. Take care of sleep, work and tasks, and the balance of hours is minimal. If a person chooses to use some of that time to interact with your community, you have a privilege. They are exposed to hundreds of other websites, communities and social channels, but they choose yours.
The reality is that the more time a buyer invests in your community, product or service, the more likely they are to respect and value it. For companies to be effective, they need to engage in the conversation and start rewarding these people. Communities are more than selling a product to consumers; they act as a pillar of support and bring value to customers.
Related: How can virtual communities create value for businesses?
Building a community can be a huge change for your business, for the better. Getting like-minded people to connect, interact, advise and advocate on your platform makes your business relevant. It also helps your business connect with people on a personal and closer level than on social channels.
Communities can increase brand awareness and provide a real competitive advantage if done right. The time to start is now. Competition waits for no one, and if you are first to market with a community, you are likely to attract many creative and passionate members who believe in the same values as you. Conversations are a big part of our lives. It’s time to start celebrating them.