Today’s customers are hungry for connection, which means it’s more important than ever for companies to find new ways to connect with them. Brand communities can deliver on customer loyalty, improved customer care, and the brand authenticity brands aspire to — but only if those communities are set up to actually serve their members.
In that regard, it’s true that not all brand communities are created equal — and not just in terms of how valuable they are to both brands and customers. Brand communities look different across industries and verticals. And they should. What works for an e-commerce brand isn’t going to work for an enterprise software company. Sometimes, multiple brand communities can exist within a single brand to help different types of customers meet their needs.
However, the core principles of what makes a strong brand community remain the same —they’re engaging, collaborative, personalized, and helpful. Let’s take a look at what makes certain brand communities thrive and what it looks like in practice.
Simply put, a brand community is not a marketing strategy — it’s a business strategy. As a result, perception and value are more important to its success than KPIs. Here are some key characteristics of every successful brand community.
High engagement might seem like a given, but too many brands fail to center the customer experience on their brand community strategy. The most successful brand communities don’t just check off a box in your marketing plan — they offer an engaging space for customers to connect, find solutions, and share ideas. If you build it the right way, customer loyalty and advocacy will follow.
Modern customers want quick answers to their most pressing questions, but too often face dead ends of redirects. A brand community with collaborative capabilities can bridge that customer care gap.
Pro tip: don’t set it and forget it. The most successful brand communities continually evolve to create a space that meets all of its members’ needs. By adding a layer of AI-driven personalization, brands can amplify the impact of any brand community space.
The idea of community itself is centered on the concept of helpfulness. The same should be true of your brand community. After all, if it’s not solving a problem or fulfilling a need for your customer base, why are you creating it?
The way brands execute these core values varies based on the audience, industry, and vertical. While the content and community needs may be different, brands can take lessons from other successful communities. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
For SaaS, telecom, and other technology companies, customer care needs are typically more technical in nature. Account managers, implementation managers, and support teams can provide much of this support. Still, an online community platform provides a space for users to find and answer questions and innovate new ways to use the product. B2B BI platform Domo created the Dojo — a community space for users to share tips and tricks, and even platform-specific apps to solve particular business problems across industries and roles.
Brands can learn a lot from professional and career communities, as well. The Revenue Collective, a global professional community for revenue leaders, creates opportunities for mentorship and connection through an exclusive membership program. They offer private Slack workspaces and ongoing happy hours and events that are only available to like-minded members.
Consumer brands have long been at the forefront of customer care and brand community innovation. From small drive-through coffee stands to global e-commerce brands, B2C companies play for keeps. They invest heavily in customer loyalty programs to attract and retain customers — which also serves to reduce their marketing and customer care costs.
The way you create and structure your brand community depends largely on your customer’s needs and your company’s industry. But core to every successful brand community is an engaging, collaborative, personalized, and helpful space for customers to find solutions and build a better connection with your brand.
Want to learn more? Watch our recent Sprinklr Coffee Club episode with Carrie Melissa Jones, a leader in the field of online brand community management and author of Building Brand Communities. Or Reach out to us for more information.