How to Start a Successful Brand Community (with Pro Tips)

Bipin VK

September 5, 20236 min read

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The Internet wields an ever-growing influence on businesses. Interactions on online platforms, like social media, chat groups and forums, shape how your brand is perceived. These can have a great influence on both online and offline purchasing decisions.

Adweek's article reveals that 76% of global internet users interact on online platforms regularly. And consumers trust online communities for research to make confident purchases. Just look at this example of how a consumer enquired about the quality of Bose products on Quora.

A customer enquiring about the quality and pricing of Bose products on Quora.

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Given the influence of online interactions on brand perception and purchase decisions, wouldn't you want to actively participate in them?

Well, a brand community offers you that opportunity. So, strap in and let's explore what a brand community is and how you can build a successful one.

Table of Contents

What is a brand community?

A brand community is a business's own space for the brand to socialize. It’s a space for participants to share their admiration, opinions and expectations. Here, participants engage in discussions, ask questions and offer advice to one another. These participants are either customers who have invested in a brand or potential customers who are educating themselves.

It does not specifically include social media followers, social post discussions, informal brand groups or communities where your brand is discussed.

Harley Davidson’s H.O.G brand community page.

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Why should your business prioritize building a brand community?

Big brands give rise to strong brand communities and vice versa. A few strong brand communities have played a key role in building multi-billion-dollar businesses, such as Huda Beauty and Nike.

Here are some of the best reasons why you should invest in building your brand community:

  • Get a competitive advantage: Nurturing a brand community enhances brand recall. It can distinguish your brand from others and create loyal customers.

  • Increase visibility: You can reach new geographic locations, demographics and channels, expanding your brand's visibility.

  • Strengthen loyalty and belonging: Brand communities are platforms where customers display their faith on a brand. This helps deepen customer loyalty, enhances the sense of belonging, encourages repeat business and promotes new customer acquisitions.

  • Create a space for engagement: You can build a space for meaningful and direct interactions, thus building trust and promoting long-lasting relationships.

  • Gain insights and feedback: Brand communities are an excellent source of consumer intelligence. You can understand customer preferences, pain points and expectations, helping you refine your products and services.

  • Reduced customer support costs: Brand communities often become a self-supporting network where community members assist each other, leading to reduced customer support costs.

Also Read: 96% Of Customers Will Leave You For Bad Customer Service

How to start, manage and grow your brand community

Though building a brand community is a long and hard process, you can have a simple and well-structured framework to set yourself up for success. Here's a brand-agnostic framework that you can modify as needed.

Start

  • Understand your customer as a person: Understanding your customers' aspirations, pains, needs, interests and motivations will help you build a solid customer engagement strategy. This exercise will guide your communication with your customers beyond what you sell.

  • Choose the right platforms: Owned community forums and apps are best for maintaining full control over the community. External platforms, like Reddit, Slack or Discord, can be valuable for specific engagements. For example, Discord is suitable for gaming communities.

  • Create a go-to audience strategy: A go-to audience strategy is a communication strategy that’s led by your customers' demographics, places of activity and content consumption. Tailor your messaging to resonate with members, create opportunities for them to interact and set clear, measurable goals for these engagements.

Manage

  • Hire dedicated managers: Dedicated community managers can be responsible for nurturing members, designing engagement plans, engaging with members and meeting community goals. For example, tech companies can hire an employee for a developer relations (DevRel) position who can build a developer community for the brand.

  • Work with partners: You can collaborate with influencers, subject matter experts and ambassadors. Even customers can be partners in amplifying your brand. They can bring more credibility, extend your reach and provide valuable content to your community.

Lululemon’s community content in collaboration with influencers.

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Grow

  • Publish valuable and scalable content: Every brand community has its own content marketing strategy. But some content could be difficult to create, so the rewards could be low compared to the efforts that go into creating it. As communities demand consistent engagement, you must focus on content that's not only valuable but scalable.

  • Fueling growth with social media: Use social media to grow your brand community by attracting people with exclusive content and benefits. Use content from your community events and activities on social media to promote further growth.

  • Measure community engagement: Metrics like the number of active users, time spent, likes, shares, comments and retention rates can provide insights into how engaged your community is. The regular monitoring and analysis of these metrics is important to measure and boost your community engagement.

Pro tips for building a successful brand community

Consistency is key when it comes to building your brand community. Going from 0 to 10K members can be challenging for small businesses. But even established large businesses may face difficulties in active participation and growth. So, let’s explore a few proven strategies that can empower your efforts:

1. Make members feel heard

Personalized communication from a brand can significantly boost enthusiasm among members. Whether it's answering a query, resolving an issue or acknowledging a contribution, making members feel heard adds tremendous value to the customer experience.

2. Reward your community members

Reward members with coupons, badges or gifts. Rewards not only make your members feel valued but also promote participation and engagement in the community.

3. Pick content themes and formats that work

You should publish content themes or topics that your audience is interested in. Say you have a gym equipment business — you could pick health and nutrition as one of your primary content themes.

Not all content formats are equal. Short-form content, such as YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels, often performs exceptionally well compared to longer videos or images.

However, the key is not to blindly follow trends but rather select a format that resonates with your audience. For instance, if you provide stock investing services, your audience might prefer a long webinar that educates them and allows for interactive Q&A sessions.

4. Plan for virality and trends

You can participate in virality and trends on social media by monitoring hashtags and discussions. Planning, here, is being able to seize opportunities to stay trendy and connect with a broader audience.

5. Best practices

Here are some of the best do's and don'ts while building your brand community:

Do's

  • Stay true to your brand

  • Have consistency in messaging

  • Hire dedicated brand community managers

  • Set realistic and measurable goals

  • Have patience

Don'ts

  • Over-publish your own content

  • Spread out thin on many platforms

  • Hurt anyone's emotions

  • Try to make it a sales channel

  • Forget to experiment

Successful brand community examples

Brands that have a strong community game can teach us a lot. Each example below has unique insights and takeaways.

Robinhood

The Reddit group of Robinhood, a popular discount brokering app, is a million-member-strong community where members help each other learn about investing and trading in stock markets.

A Robinhood community member’s post on Reddit.

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Robinhood's community makes the most of user-generated content, driving engagement and growth. As highlighted in a McKinsey article, such content can have a “flywheel effect,” which leads to a steady momentum and cycle of increased engagement and content creation.

However, Robinhood relies on external platforms like Reddit and Discord. While such a strategy is good for growth, you have to follow platform guidelines and always remain exposed to risks associated with the platform.

Postman

Postman is one of the most popular application-programming-interface (API) platforms. It allows developers to build, test and monitor APIs. Postman's community is accessed by developers around the world to learn about the latest and upcoming APIs.

Topics and queries on the Postman community page.

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Since API development and monitoring are complex, Postman depends on its community members to resolve issues, thereby lowering the need to contact its customer support.

According to an article by Harvard Business Review, resolving queries via a community is 72% cheaper than via support. What's more, the queries asked on the community are searchable and available 24/7.

Red Bull

Pretty much everyone knows of Red Bull, the popular energy drink. This company is a master of branding with fun advertisements. For example, its tagline “Red Bull Gives You Wings” is set in stone as an iconic catchphrase. Red Bull's online community engages a variety of sports enthusiasts.

A Red Bull community event.

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Red Bull uses its online community to promote participation in offline and online events. It has partnerships with sports personalities and venues, and it promotes itself as an action-packed lifestyle brand. It is one of the best examples of brand positioning and partnerships.

Ready to build your brand community?

A brand community is a brilliant way to boost brand engagement, reinforce loyalty and spread visibility. Strong brand communities have the power to lower marketing and support costs substantially.

Invest in high-quality yet scalable content, develop nurturing activities and give delightful rewards. Also, consider the pros and cons of choosing a platform. While external platforms are good for growth, owned platforms give you complete control.

Hire managers who put dedicated efforts into growing your community. Partner with customers, influencers and SMEs. Set community engagement goals. And always monitor and analyze community activities to make changes as and when required.

Sprinklr’s diverse set of engagement tools can certainly go a long way in helping you to develop strong brand communities that effectively lower your marketing and support costs. So, don’t think twice about taking its comprehensive suite for a demo run.

Further Reading: 70% of online brand communities fail. Here's how you can beat the odds and join the winning 30%.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can measure your brand community's success by combining quantitative and qualitative metrics. Quantitative metrics include membership growth, engagement rates and conversion rates, while qualitative metrics focus on members' sentiment analysis, interaction health and feedback

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