Why Your Brand Needs a Community
Building an online community takes time and ongoing effort, so why would a brand or business bother?
We may be biased here at Panion, but that's only because we see so many reasons to build a community for your business, personal brand, or other network. We'll dive into some key reasons to help you decide why it's a good idea to create your own community.
1. Your community is an extra marketing channel for your brand
If you run any type of business, your online community is a place where you can talk directly to your (potential) customers. Use it as a platform to share product updates and new offers, but don't make the mistake of only broadcasting your message.
Your community should be a place where members are encouraged to share, ask questions, and interact with each other. They should be front and center with your community manager, steering the conversations and igniting that engagement.
2. An online community allows you to do targeted product research
What easier way to get feedback about your product, or to figure out what to create next, than in a room full of customers? While you can explicitly ask members to share their experiences, and what they would like to see improved, simply paying attention to what they post can often provide a wealth of information too.
And if you're planning to create something new, including them in the development of your new product will make them feel invested and more likely to buy once you launch it. The important thing here is to not get defensive. If your members feel that you're not open to hearing their complaints, or don't want to take into account their feature requests, you'll create frustration instead of goodwill.
3. A community helps you improve your brand's marketing message
Paying attention to what people say about your brand is one thing, analyzing how they say it is another. Especially when you're still in the startup phase or launching a brand new offer, it's crucial to figure out which words, phrases, and tone of voice people are using to talk about the pain points you're solving.
When you have your own network, you can extract your marketing copy from it and know you'll be speaking to your audience in their language. Spot a word that keeps coming up or an issue you didn't even know you were solving? Update your website, add it to your email sequence, and show customers that you understand them and are there for them.
4. An online community enables customers to self-support
Speaking of being there for them, your community is both a place where you can answer customer questions directly, and a forum for community members to help each other out. The former might not sound very appealing, as it also means that people will notice when you're slow to reply, but if you're serious about helping your community, this should only serve as motivation.
The more engaged your community becomes, the more likely it is that community members will start answering questions for you. You'll still want to check whether those answers are correct, but having questions answered by others makes it less urgent for you to reply as well.
5. An online community makes it easier to spot, nurture, and work with brand advocates
If you notice that there are a few members who are always helping others out and engaging with every post you publish, you may have just spotted some brand advocates. Don't just be silently grateful for them but nurture them.
You can do this by publicly recognizing their contributions, contacting them privately to become beta testers for new products, or even asking them to help with the management of the community.
6. A community is a source for user-generated content
People love being part of something and feeling like they're contributing to something great. Creating a community gives your members a deeper sense of belonging, which makes them associate positive feelings with your brand and feeling included in something bigger. Your community can provide for both needs by proactively asking your members to share their experiences.
Testimonials, photos of your product, and unboxing videos are all types of user-generated content that you can ask people to share in your community, and later repurpose on your blog or social media channels. Just make sure to ask for permission first!
To get content that fits your branding, it's best to be clear about what you're looking for. Is it a certain type of photo? Does the video need to match a specific theme? Do people need to use a hashtag? The better you communicate, the more useable content you'll get. Don't go overboard with the guidelines either, though. You'll want to make it easy and exciting for people to participate.
7. An online community is an extra traffic channel for your brand
When you're sharing a new blog article or guide with your members, you know you're sharing it with an audience that already knows, likes, and trusts you. This makes them more likely to click your link, and head over to your website, making your network a good source of extra traffic.
As you can see, there are many benefits to building an online network and with Panion, the process is easy! Sign up today to start your own community for free.