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

Naveen Mahadevan

May 30, 202310 min read

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I've been there. The exciting community turned ghost town. And I promised never to let it happen again. 

First, I had to confront why we messed up.   

Sure, there's a list of things.  

The one big mess up? Lack of attention.  

But wait. Are you "paying attention" when you take your child to the playground and sit on a bench the whole time fiddling with your phone, glancing up every now and then? 

Or when you're truly present, playing with her, helping her, laughing and loving the time with her? 

Pay attention with passion. Customers feel it and return it 10x.  

If you want your community to grow, stop making it about you, your brand. Focus on what your customers care about. Their passions.  Take a sports shoe and apparel brand, for instance. Instead of talking about their products, they can tap into the runner's passions by dishing out content on the following:  

  • Best playlists for running in the rain 

  • Quietest time of day for long runs 

  • Culturally diverse pre-race meals 

 This way, they can create a relevant and engaging space for their customers, showing they care about supporting their interests. Also, a brand can have multiple communities — different communities for different needs can be a great approach.   No matter what, remember that the key to a strong brand community is to center it around your customers’ shared interests or hobbies, not just your products. 

Table of Contents

Ready to build a kick-ass online brand community? 

Don't just treat your online brand community as a checklist item on your marketing plan. It's not just about hitting some KPIs. It's about creating a community that actually serves its members.  

Here are some tips that will help your community thrive. 

One singular purpose 

A kick-ass brand community needs a common cause to rally behind. It could be anything from saving the environment to eating tacos. Just pick something people passionately care about and run with it. 

Take Patagonia, for example. They're all about outdoor gear and saving the planet. And they've turned their customers into a community of conscious eco-warriors. They even have a Worn Wear program that encourages folks to repair and reuse their clothes instead of just throwing them away. It's a brilliant way to make a difference and build a community at the same time. 

worn wear

Provide an escape from the monotony of everyday life 

Don't just settle for a boring old customer experience. Spice things up and create some immersive experiences that your customers will never forget. Think virtual reality events, live-streamed workshops and in-person meetups. By giving your customers a memorable experience, you'll turn them into loyal fans who can't get enough of your brand. 

Get real or go home 

Are you tired of fake communities that pretend to care about your interests? Us too! That's why it's crucial to build a brand community that's all about being real and honest. People crave a place where they can connect with like-minded individuals and be their true selves. 

Moz gets it, and that's why they're killing it with their community of SEO and digital marketing enthusiasts. They actively seek feedback from their users and keep them in the loop about new features and product updates. This transparency and open communication build trust and a genuine sense of community around the brand. 

Be the clingy (but not too clingy) brand that your community loves 

If you want to create a killer brand community, consistency is key! This means being rock-solid in your branding, messaging and engagement with your audience. You've got to show up regularly and be responsive to your community members, even when life gets in the way. 

Take Nike, for example. They're the king of consistency! Their brand is always on point, whether you're looking at their website or their social media channels. They post motivational content all the time and feature athletes to reinforce their message of "Just Do It." 

Give the recognition they deserve with a generous rewards program 

Let's talk about giving credit where credit is due. It's crucial to recognize the contributions of your community members, no matter how big or small. And what better way to do it than by offering them some sweet rewards? 

Take Google Reviews, for instance. Their Local Guides program is like a VIP club for members who contribute to the platform. By leaving reviews, answering questions and adding photos, members can earn points and unlock perks like early access to new features and exclusive event invites. It's a win-win situation – members get recognized for their contributions, and Google gets valuable content for its platform. 

Stop leaving your customers hanging, and be more proactive  

Look, we all know the pain of being stuck on hold and transferred from one agent to the next. It's like a never-ending maze of elevator music and automated messages. But what if you could get help from other users who've been there and done that? That's where a brand community with collaborative capabilities comes in. 

Take Slack, for example. Their community forums are like a secret hideout for Slack users. You can connect with other users who've faced similar challenges and get advice from experienced members and even Slack employees. And when the dreaded outage strikes, the forums become a hub for real-time updates and support. No more waiting on hold and listening to Kenny G! 

The midas touch to turn your brand community from 'meh' to 'wow' 

Are you looking to take your brand community to the next level? One way to make your community even more awesome is to add a touch of AI-driven personalization. That's right, by leveraging the power of AI, you can better meet the unique needs of your members.  

 For example, check out the Nike Training Club app. It gives users access to personalized workouts and nutrition plans that fit their specific needs and goals. Plus, Nike has also created NikePlus.com, a social network where members can share their accomplishments and connect with like-minded fitness fanatics. 

ntc-app

Self-help can help your brand community master your product faster  

Communities are all about being helpful, right? And your brand community should be no different. It needs to tackle a problem or fill a need for your customers. 

Take Etsy Community for instance. It's an e-commerce platform that brings together Etsy sellers and buyers from around the globe. This awesome community provides tons of resources like forums, online courses, webinars and blog articles. They're all geared toward helping sellers improve their business and marketing skills and connect with other sellers and buyers. 

Hashtag your way to a community that's trending (and growing) 

If you're looking to give your online brand community a boost, hashtags are a great way to go! They make your content more searchable and help you connect with your audience.  

We have four tried-and-true hashtag strategies to help you increase your community engagement and get your brand noticed. your community engagement and get your brand noticed.  

Create a hashtag that embodies your brand values 

Want to make your brand community go viral? Creating a unique and memorable branded hashtag is one way to get there! Just take it from Always, the sanitary protection brand, who launched the #LikeAGirl campaign in 2014. The campaign was aimed at empowering girls and challenging gender stereotypes, and encouraged young women to share their stories and photos on social media using the hashtag #LikeAGirl. And boy, did it take off! With over 90 million impressions and widespread media coverage, Always hit a home run with their #LikeAGirl campaign — no tam-puns intended! 

Always-advertising-scaled

Jump on to the popular hashtag bandwagon 

Hashtags can be like the ultimate wingman for your brand, making it more visible and helping you score new followers. You can use popular hashtags to join in on the conversations happening on social media and show off your brand’s personality. Check out the #MondayMotivation hashtag, for instance. People use it to share uplifting stuff like quotes, photos and videos to start the week on the right foot. Even name brands like Nike and Under Armour have used it to get people pumped about staying fit and focused. 

Let your fans do the talking with user-generated content 

Want to know a secret to building a strong brand community? It's all about getting your customers involved and creating content that speaks to them. Just look at Dunkin' Donuts — they nailed it with their #DunkinReplay campaign in 2019. Customers were challenged to recreate classic Dunkin' Donuts commercials from back in the day and share their masterpieces using the hashtag. And boy, did they deliver! The campaign resulted in over 4,000 user-generated posts — talk about community engagement!  

Who says contests are only for kids? Grow your brand community with hashtag contests. 

Hosting a hashtag contest isn’t just a great way to boost your brand community, it's also a chance to show off your company's heart and soul. 

Disney got super creative when they launched the #DreamBigPrincess competition in 2016. The aim was to motivate teenage girls around the world to chase their dreams. Every year on October 11, International Day of the Girl Child, the competition starts. Girls who participate post pictures of themselves working towards their aspirations with the #DreamBigPrincess hashtag. The lucky winners get to spend time with an accomplished lady in their field of choice. During the 2019 event, Disney took things up a notch and donated a dollar to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative that supports the empowerment of young women, for every public post with the #DreamBigPrincess hashtag. They pledged up to a million bucks, and you can bet that they reached that goal.  

dream big

If you've tried all the hashtag tricks mentioned above but feel that your community still needs a little oomph, don't sweat it. The next section has got you covered, showing you how to turn your quiet community into a happening and buzzing one.  

Why teaming up with popular influencers can be great for your brand community

Influencers are everywhere these days! But guess what, they can help your brand reach new heights by bringing their own unique perspective and followers to the table. Here are three reasons why you should work with one. 

Win the hearts and minds of your community 

So, you want to convince people to buy your stuff? Well, one way to do it is by getting the approval of someone they already like and trust. That's where influencers come in! These folks are the cool cats of their respective niches, and their fans listen to what they have to say. By teaming up with influencers who share your brand's values, you can show their followers that you're legit too. And when it comes to building a community, having an influencer in your corner is like having a celebrity endorsement, only better because it feels more personal. 

Create authentic content for your brand community 

Influencers are pros at making relatable and cool content that clicks with their followers. So, partnering with them is a great way to show off your brand's goods and services in a genuine and relatable way. Not only does it get more people hyped about your brand, but it also helps to create a group of faithful customers. 

Keep your brand community connected 

Influencers can help promote your brand on social media by tagging your brand in their posts, using your branded hashtag or even participating in your social media challenges. That gets their followers to check out your brand and hopefully engage with you. And before you know it, you'll have a crew of loyal and excited customers ready to share their love for your brand with others!

If you're trying to build an online brand community, know your audience inside and out. Second, come up with an awesome reason why people should care about your brand. And finally, make sure you're engaging with your community regularly and genuinely. 

Reach out to us for more information. 

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