E-commerce has done an amazing job of connecting businesses to customers on a transactional level, but are our inner social creatures missing out? When we’re clicking more and scurrying around physical stores less, does our sense of community suffer?
Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide. In 2020, e-commerce sales amounted to 4.28 trillion [!] US dollars, meaning it [more than] doubled since 2018.
We all frequent the online world more than ever, and business owners who understand that customers still need sociability and community are those who can create meaning, add value, and thrive online.
What is an online community?
Online communities have a similar purpose to those in real life [IRL]. They help people come together based on common interests. This coming together can involve vibrant discussion, relationship-building, education, and [most importantly] a chance for your fans to fill up their social cups.
Online communities can be found in forums, Facebook groups, comments sections on social media pages, and even email subscription lists.
When you have a solid brand community, your customers will feel emotionally connected to your business – which can be a positive thing for both sociability and sales [yay].
The benefits of creating a community around your brand
As a place where members feel included, valued, and heard, online communities show that your brand is more about just taking customers’ money and running. An effective online community can be a useful resource. It can be somewhere your fans head to when they’re after guidance, advice, and education – not just about the specific products or services you sell – but about other topics in your niche.
Audience insights are valuable to every business, but they don’t just have to come from crunching open-rates and Google Analytics stats. When you create an active community around your brand, you’ll get insights about customer needs, interests, and behaviours from the discussions they have. You’ll see what they love, what they don’t, how you could improve, and what makes them tick.
When you have a group of fans waving your flag for you, word of mouth marketing will be your best friend. A well-managed community will allow customers to create hype and positivity about your product or service on your behalf – and even help to grow your social media presence.
How to start building a community around your business
The best place to start is to evaluate what you want your brand to represent. Customers are drawn to communities that stand for something – communities that are show alignment to their own beliefs.
Do you know what your business offers beyond the product or service you sell? Do you know what your customers value? When you’re clear on your company’s mission, values, voice, and personality, you can start showcasing what your brand is all about. What do you want to be known for?
Do your social media posts add value to your customer’s day, or are you filling up their digital headspace with scroll-worthy fluff? Creating an online community doesn’t have to involve spending time managing a lively Facebook group – it can be as simple as creating valuable social posts that start conversations [and conversions].
Creating free educational content – whether that’s through a blog post, an Instagram tile, or email marketing, shows that your business knows what it’s talking about. When you position yourself as an expert in your niche by creating real value, people will gather around to see what all the fuss is about.
Creating lasting connections
Building a community around your business is a long game digital marketing strategy. It takes time, but when done well, it can create lasting connections between your brand and your customers.
At 3PM, we know that any digital strategy should have actionable goals, so you know what’s working and what needs to improve. How will you measure the success of your community efforts? Do you want to track leads? How will you keep your fans engaged? Making sure your approach is more than just crossing your toes and hoping for the best is the best way to guarantee success.
For tailored advice about how to grow your business using digital marketing strategy – from SEO to SEM – contact 3 Phase Marketing. Our approachable, expert team is waiting to hear from you. Don’t be shy.