How Digital Communities are driving the business of brands: Preeti Pandey
Online communities function as an extra dimension to a brand’s marketing success and go far beyond their products and services to make a real impact on customer’s lifestyles writes Preeti Pandey, Director Business Strategy, Media Moments.
Most companies have started accepting the fact that the use of social media is not enough to build their strong brand network or generate enough return on investment. Governed by vanity metrics of likes and follows, brand engagement based on these metrics is meaningless and often has little or no bearing on the actual effectiveness of a brand networking strategy. Hence many companies see online brand communities as an effective solution to build a strong brand network.
Branded online communities go far beyond traditional marketing strategies and offer flourishing social spaces of ideation, communication, connection feedback, support, and advocacy. Brands who have done this successfully, have remained consumer favourites. These communities function as an extra dimension to a brand’s marketing success and go far beyond their products and services to make a real impact on customer’s lifestyles thereby converting them into loyal, enthusiastic brand advocates.
Indeed, some of the most successful brands contribute much of their success to the strength of their communities.
Take Red Bull for example –
The brand generated successful brand awareness by co-relating the brand philosophy, virtue aka all the intangible things with tangible physical activities like hobbies and extreme sports. Adding to it, for years the brand has been hosting the popular events including like the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Red Bull Air Race and Red Bull Crashed Ice that have significantly contributed to making the brand success and attain one of the highest market shares of any energy drink in the world.
Another great example is Harley Davidson- In 1985 the company almost faced bankruptcy and was pivoting towards 4 wheelers. But today after 35 years the brand stands a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, all thanks to HOG – Harley Owners Group often called the granddaddy of community-building efforts.
Firefox Bikes, a brand acquired by Hero Cycles now, has always been known to rely on very strong word-of-mouth to build its leadership in the premium bicycle segment.
And of course who can forget Apple.. Once an Apple user always an Apple user!
The list is endless and to sum it up whether it is Puma, an Adidas, or a Facebook or an Instagram, all of these brands have pinned their success on their thriving communities.
Now that we know how important communities are, the real question on hand is how do brands build a successful community and what the key features of a good brand community are? Listed below are few salient features that a quintessential for success of any brand community.
1. Complete the Circle: Offline, to Online then back to offline
While digital platforms are a great base to connect like-minded people, in today’s integrated marketing world it is also important that people connect to the brand in the offline world as well. While brands selling physical products may find it easier to connect the customers but for those who provide service it might be a little trickier.
Take for example Top Gear what started as a television show in 1977, has today built a global community of race car fanatics. The brand not only runs a popular TV show but also publishes its own magazine in no less than twenty countries and has even developed a Nintendo video game and organizes continuous live events. The brand community members can physically and online through these events.
2. High-quality content
Content is the king! Aren’t we all aware of this fact? Brand communities function as a knowledge bank where both members and the brands can exchange information freely and establish and drive engagement. The information may vary from product to hobby to person but the important thing to remember is that information/content should be of high quality. Having access to high-quality information is one of the key drivers of a successful brand community. Add to it, you can use tools that facilitate re-sharing and changing formats thereby enabling the brands to turn their content into any format that suits their target audience.
3. Build Strong Identification
If a customer does not identify with your product or brand, the chances are he will not purchase your product. Hence it is important for brands to position themselves or associate with a certain lifestyle, image, or even societal group to make it relatable to the customers. Positioning is a crucial factor as it greatly influences the purchase behaviours and interactions of customers with the. Apart from positioning it is also important to communicate these vision in a consistent manner across different digital channels to establish stronger connect
For example, Steve Madden the premium shoe brand has optimized its brand communication across multiple channels, resulting in a Facebook community comprising of more than a million members and followers on Instagram.
In today’s digital world where people are more connected than ever, brands have much to gain from connecting like-minded individuals via communities. It is a must-have asset for businesses who want to overcome the limitations and unpredictable nature of conventional social media. A strong brand community can hugely contribute to the success of your business.
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