QUICK NOTE: If you’re a Brand Marketer or a CMO, or generally someone from the marketing realm looking to drive consideration and increase word-of-mouth advocacy for your brand, this blog is a must-read for you.
It explains all about community marketing, including what it means today, its benefits, strategies, along with shedding light on a few examples.
In the last few years, online marketing has changed significantly.
Until 2019, we focused on leveraging social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to communicate with our existing customers, and relied heavily on paid advertising to reach potential customers.
Today, brands want to create a more meaningful relationship with their customers.
Since paid acquisition has become expensive and these social media channels offer one-way communication, brands are betting on community marketing which ensures two-way or peer to peer communication.
But, what exactly is community marketing? What are its benefits? How are brands going about building a successful community marketing strategy?
We’ve answered all these questions, along with a few others, in this ultimate guide.
Before getting into those details, let’s first understand what a community is and how it is different from a brand page or an Influencer page.
What is a Community?
A community is a safe space where a tribe of people come together owing to a common cause, pain point, area of interest or life stage. They have meaningful conversations, share ideas and recommendations, and seek advice from one another on things that matter to them.
Most of these communities exist as groups on Facebook, subreddits on Reddit, and channels on Slack. (More about the platforms as you read ahead)
How are these communities different from Influencer Communities or Brand Pages?
Communities are where “real” conversations happen, and members have open & transparent discussions without having to showcase a “fairy tale” version of themselves. They talk about anything and everything without the innate fear of being judged or trolled. Rather, they’re certain of getting solutions to their problems.
Speaking of, there’s a two-way communication happening, unlike in influencer communities or brand pages that are present on a Facebook page, Instagram (which are like a balcony) where the community leader or owner of these platforms (including brands) are just sharing updates and information with their audience aka followers.
Have a look at this influencer post below.
Sharing a few comments this post got.
Communities, on the other hand, are like halls, where people choose to enter and meet with like-minded individuals to talk about things they care about. Furthermore, these halls (i.e. communities) are gated by the Admin, and hence these groups are inherently curated around the group’s purpose.
Here’s an example of a branded post done in a parenting Facebook group that has over 37K members.
Have a look at this post’s comments.
The brand is not only generating awareness about its product but also driving consideration and understanding the top of mind of its consumers as the comments are way more descriptive as compared to the influencer post on Instagram.
And this is not all. One such post in Facebook communities leads to additional user-generated posts which in turn leads to increased engagement and brand impressions.
Now that you know all about communities, let’s understand community marketing definition.
What is Community Marketing?
Community Marketing is an innovative growth strategy centered around bringing brands, their customers, and potential customers together in an engaging, transparent, and non-intrusive way.
In simple terms, it’s purpose-led marketing where brands utilize communities as a channel to get in front of their customers and potential customers and build meaningful relationships with them.
Here’s an example of a brand post as a part of a community marketing campaign.
To showcase the benefits of its hydro boost water gel, Neutrogena partnered with women-only communities on Facebook and delivered the message of hydrated, soft and smooth skin with the help of admins.
These women admins (who are also mothers) share how their everyday routine takes a toll on their skin, leaving it dehydrated. They further discuss the benefits of Neutrogena hydro boost gel, how their skin has become soft and supple again, and encourage others to try it out.
As you can see, the brand can easily get in front of their customers and potential customers while providing solutions to the members’ problems.
What are the benefits of Community Marketing for brands?
Genuine and Authentic conversations
Communities are a hub of genuine and authentic conversations. Members have honest and transparent conversations without having to showcase a fairy tale version of themselves.
In a cooking group, members share how they prepare tasty dishes at home, experimenting with different cooking products. Similarly, in a parenting community, mums share their experiences with different baby products, which one they like the most, and why.
That said, communities are where people have uninhibited discussions on topics brands would love to engage in.
Listen to your customers’ top of mind
In communities, you can easily listen to your members’ thoughts, experiences, needs, and pain points.
Have a look at this post and its comments from one of the parenting communities.
Imagine going through hundreds and thousands of similar posts, tapping into member insights, and positioning yourself as a solution to the discussed issues.
Not to mention product research and development, with no extra costs!
Focused and better customer service
Whether you own a brand community or choose to market your brand products in other existing communities, you get access to customers’ feedback.
Having a dedicated community manager who would report that feedback, respond to your customer’s queries, and address their concerns is the way to go about it.
This would mean focused customer service as your community manager will always be on top of member issues and collaborate with the team to resolve them.
There’s also no need for brand communities to invest in a separate customer support channel as the community takes over this function.
Increased satisfaction and loyalty
Humans are social creatures. They seek belonging and connection and crave to be understood.
When brands build communities where people can be themselves, share what they feel, and get value, they’ll gain a sense of satisfaction. And it is due to this satisfaction that they’re highly likely to become loyal customers.
What’s even better? Satisfied loyal customers go on to become your brand ambassadors.
Easy to market new products
When you have a tight-knit community of loyal customers who love your products and brand, they look forward to what you bring to the table next. Hence, it’s pretty easy to market new products to your customers.
You get genuine customer feedback on the product and save time going elsewhere for product research and development.
High organic engagement
One of the key differences between communities and all other social media channels is organic reach.
Considering the high organic engagement in communities and high engagement being a catalyst for organic reach, the Facebook algorithm determines the group members to be ‘inherently interested’ in the group content. Therefore the organic reach of Facebook groups tends to be very high. Hence, communities provide a cost-effective way to drive organic reach.
To note – Content in communities can’t be boosted in any way. So, all engagement in communities is 100% organic and interest and relevance driven.
A passionate brand community fuels innovation and growth.
When a Starbucks-owned community’s member shared about the strawless lids on Starbucks’ cups, here’s what other members had to say.
Isn’t this post a great insight into members’ preferences that Starbucks can further use to innovate its products?
Economical as compared to other marketing channels
Unlike digital paid advertising that involves spending big bucks to reach potential customers, community-based marketing requires time, effort, and commitment.
That said, community marketing costs less as compared to the other forms of marketing.
It’s all about providing value to your customers and making them happy. And that will not only lead to spreading the word about your brand but also reduce market research costs.
Did you know that some of the world’s biggest brands like Starbucks, Peloton, Nike and Google, were built on community-based marketing?
In addition to being the first brand touch point for new potential customers, a community helps retain the prospects that may have dropped out early in a funnel, those that were not converted and would have been lost at cost. The community is a space that nurtures the prospect, giving additional points to potential conversion over the longer term at no extra cost.
The benefits of community-based marketing are many. The next question is – where to build a community?
The section below sheds light on all the platforms where communities exist.
ALSO READ – Why Community Marketing Should Be A Part Of Every Brand’s Marketing Mix
Best Community Marketing Platform
1. Facebook Groups
They are the place to be because everyone else is here!
More than 1.8 billion people are active in Facebook groups every day. And over 70 million admins and moderators run active Facebook groups.
These communities are based on a common pain point or area of interest, ranging from parenting, cooking, lifestyle, fitness, health, ayurveda to gaming categories.
Did you know that Reddit is home to more than 130,000 active communities, aka subreddits?
There’s a community for whatever you’re interested in, be it breaking news, sports, tv fan theories, sports, or anything else. However, the most popular and liked communities on Reddit are mostly across technology, gaming, and crypto.
Today, 10 million people use Slack daily to facilitate and simplify corporate communication.
The communities, aka channels on Slack, not only help you connect and collaborate with co-workers in real-time but also with like-minded individuals across the globe, solve problems, talk to customers, and generate new ideas.
Slack has everything from professional role-specific communities to industry-specific groups, including options for those who want to connect with gaming and hiking enthusiasts.
This question-and-answer-based platform has gained significance ever since it came into existence, and today, it has over 300 million monthly active users.
While Quora is the place to be if you wish to seek suggestions about anything and everything, its most popular categories have been entertainment, business, travel, marketing, learning, and technology.
WhatsApp is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular and widely used instant messaging applications, with over 2000 million monthly active users.
WhatsApp groups are invite-only, meaning only the most relevant users or those who are interested or passionate about something are part of that community. Hence, it becomes crucial for businesses to leverage it as a channel.
Whether you’re looking to connect with friends and plan your coffee dates or would like to seek authentic connections and solutions to your problems over anything and everything, WhatsApp has got you covered.
One cannot refuse to take notice of the burgeoning communities on Discord that has over 140 million monthly active users and 300 million registered accounts.
Users can easily communicate via voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities, aka servers.
Whether you wish to be a part of a coding club, gaming group or connect with crypto enthusiasts, Discord has it all.
This cross-platform, cloud-based instant messaging service attracts 550 million monthly active users.
Telegram’s most popular channels range from Telegram tips, news, and movies to coding, crypto, and gaming categories.
8. LinkedIn Groups
With over 150 million active users, LinkedIn is among the most popular professional networking sites. A majority of LinkedIn users are in 10 or more groups.
Over 2 million active LinkedIn groups currently exist, and more than 8000 others are entering the playing field each week.
Some top LinkedIn groups that team managers or business professionals consider joining are supply chain, team building, marketing, sales, and PR, among others.
Choosing the right community platform can set you up for success. The different factors that should dictate which community platform you select are:
- Campaign objective
- Type of product, target audience and demographics
- Ease of doing campaigns
- Ease of finding the right communities
- The overall reach of platforms
When approaching community marketing, it’s wise to have a solid community marketing strategy in place. How you can go about creating one is what we’re going to talk about next.
ALSO READ – How to choose the best Community Marketing Platform for your brand?
How do you create a Community Marketing Strategy?
To be able to create a community based marketing strategy, you must have clarity on:
Do you want to create a new community from scratch, or do you wish to work with already established communities?
Either way, you’ll have to start conversations, establish opportunities, and plug in your products and services.
However, choosing a community marketing platform and collaborating with existing communities is a quick, easy way to connect with your customers. On the other hand, building your community from scratch is a long and gradual process.
Let’s look in detail at each of these.
How to Create Community Marketing Strategy for an all-new brand community?
1. Identify the brand topic and category you’d like to create a community on
Not sure of what exactly you should base your brand community on?
Know it from your members. Listen to what they say about your brand and products across social media channels.
Since they’re already familiar with your brand, they must have an ongoing conversation with you. Use that to derive what your brand community could be.
Or, you can also go about creating an all-inclusive general brand community where members can connect. For the same, you must have a community building strategy in place.
For instance, Peloton owns an online community on Facebook (with over 445,000 members) that brings together dedicated Peloton users and those looking to buy one. Members share their success stories, about their transformation journeys, inspiration, milestone achievements, and so much more.
2. Be clear with your objective
Alongside your community category, you should be crystal clear about the objective of forming your community as it would help attract like-minded people.
It could be anything from simply bringing all customers under one roof to selling your products and services.
For example, Sunsilk, a renowned hair care brand wholly owned by Unilever, recently launched its women-only online community on Facebook based on Sunsilk’s very popular campaign initiative of Girlgiri.
They named the community Girlgiri Sisterhood. In this inclusive community, women support one another to stretch their horizons, explore new possibilities and unlock their potential to make their dreams a reality.
3. Understand your target audience
Next, you need to figure out who would be the right fit for your community.
If you are a brand selling kids’ products, your target audience would be parents. Similarly, if you’re a fitness brand, your target audience would be people looking to make lifestyle changes and those who’ve already started their fitness journey. Their age range could be from 18 to 45 years or even more.
4. Choose the right platform
Now that you know your target audience, see where they spend time the most.
If we talk about parents, their age range might be 25 – 45, and they are likely to spend most of their time on Facebook. So, if you’re a brand targeting parents, Facebook groups are your answer!
Talk about gamers; they are young adults from 18 to 30 years of age and are likely to spend their time talking about gaming on Discord or Telegram.
5. Create your community and start engaging
It’s finally time to create your brand community on the chosen platform and start inviting your customers.
Spread the word on all social media platforms and encourage customers to join your newly-created community. Tell them in less than two lines about why they should join your community and the value they’ll be getting from it.
Make sure to have a dedicated community manager who’ll look after the community and get the ball rolling.
Starting a community with a sure shot community building strategy is easy, but getting members to participate can be challenging. So, ensure that you have a content strategy in place because initially, the onus will be on the community manager to warm up the members and give them reasons to start talking.
It would be after some time that members would participate themselves.
Here’s sharing a guide that would help your brand community manager spark the right discussions in your community👇🏻
25 highly effective ways to keep your online community engaged
Community Marketing Strategy to discover the most relevant communities for your brand
Even when you’re looking to partner with already established communities, you need to have clarity about your brand objective, target audience, and the platform they’re using.
Only then will you be able to discover the most relevant communities for your marketing campaigns.
1. Use keywords to search for relevant communities
By now, we know there’s a pool of communities, no matter the social media platform.
And what’s interesting is that there are hundreds and thousands of communities under different categories like parenting, fitness, food, nutrition, gaming, lifestyle, and crypto, to name a few.
That said, you could easily get a cohort of communities together around one category where the total member size across them would surpass tens of millions.
Hence, you can easily tap into the most relevant communities where your target users actively engage and discuss their pain points, needs, and preferences.
All you need to do is search using relevant keywords, i.e., your product category. For instance, if you’re a parenting brand, you can search for keywords like parenting, parents, moms, dads, and so on.
2. Join these communities and tap into member conversations
After discovering communities at scale, be a part of them, go through member conversations, and understand what they are talking about. This will help you know if a particular community fits your business category and your brand’s USP.
3. Approach community leaders to discuss potential collaboration
Every community out there has a community leader/creator / key opinion leader (KOL) who’s the most trusted voice of the community. The KOL has built, nurtured and scaled this community to where it is, and members look up to them to share valuable information.
Hence, it’s best to approach the community leader to discuss potential collaborations. Tell them about your brand, marketing objective, why you think your brand will add value to their community, and why their community is the right fit for your brand.
If you’re new to this and are reluctant about how things work, you can partner with third-party platforms that support community advertising and easily get started.
Convosight is the world’s first-ever community marketing platform that helps 55+ enterprise brands across beauty, health & wellness, food, and nutrition categories, to name a few, connect with and engage meaningfully with their target audience through strategic and impactful community marketing campaigns, shaped by data-driven insights.
Here’s sharing an immensely successful Community Marketing example of a top antiseptic brand.
Dettol, one of the most renowned brands of cleaning supplies, disinfectants, and antiseptics, used the power of community based marketing to scale its Dettol Salutes initiative.
The second wave of Covid that hit India in April & May 2021 saw humanity at its best, with self-sacrificing individuals coming together to help those in need. To thank these protectors for their noble efforts during such challenging times, Dettol came up with their Dettol Salutes initiative.
They wanted to inspire the nation with these heroic stories by replacing their iconic logo on the Dettol handwash bottle with the image of the protector and their story.
Dettol partnered with Convosight to use the power of community marketing in Facebook groups to scale the reach and impact of this initiative and drive more participation.
The admins of these Facebook groups shared the stories of their Covid heroes with virtual packs in their groups and motivated the members to do the same by highlighting the Covid protectors they know.
This inspired members to share their stories in relevant posts and comments, which further inspired more members to see, get inspired, and share.
“Dettol Salutes campaign was able to generate more than 33000 virtual packs for this campaign, from Community marketing in Facebook groups, accounting for almost 18% of the total virtual packs generated.”
If you also want to explore the potential of community advertising aka community marketing in Facebook groups, you can reach out to us 👉🏻 HERE 👈🏻and our community marketing expert will get in touch with you.
ALSO READ – 10 excellent Community Marketing examples from top brands to help you get started
Best Community Marketing Ideas
While there are tons of ways brands can engage with communities, a few formats have managed to get the maximum success, and they are:
Where brands and community leaders co-create content that interests their members and provides them value, which ultimately benefits everyone.
Johnsons recently collaborated with a kids homeschooling community to educate mums about the benefits of choosing cotton-based things for their kids.
The community leader talks about how she is excited to make new memories with her little one this summer break. At the same time, she emphasizes the importance of taking care of the baby’s skin and hair in this scorching heat and plugs in the Johnson’s Cotton Touch range, talking about the benefits of each product in it.
Where brands partner with community leaders to host contests in their communities, members participate in huge numbers, and winners receive gift hampers from the brand.
Amigo, India’s natural, plant-based grooming brand for Tweens, partnered with a mom-only Facebook group and ran a contest. Members had to name all the four ingredients they saw in the image comprising Amigo products.
Upon its conclusion, five lucky winners got Amigo products worth INR 1000 each.
Where brands partner with community leaders and distribute samples of their products to them as well as members in exchange for feedback.
Here’s how Baby Dove partnered with one of the most trusted parenting communities on Facebook. The community leader shared tips on how she took care of her baby’s dry and flaky skin and explained the benefits of using Baby Dove Derma Wash.
She also encouraged them to use it and share their product reviews.
Surveys and Research
Where brands share survey links in communities to gain insights into consumer preferences.
Sharing an example below where a community leader, in collaboration with a brand, encourages her members to fill the survey on salon preferences.
Where brands collaborate with community leaders to showcase the value of their products in communities and generate highly relevant leads from there.
Check out how OPI, the famous Nail Lacquer brand, partnered with a women-only Facebook group to announce that their mini nail paints are available on Nykaa and encouraged members to buy the same.
Where brands share the link of their products in the communities and direct consumers to them to increase website traffic.
Baggit, one of India’s most popular handbag brands, collaborated with a women-only Facebook group and directed them to their website owing to the mind-blowing discounts they were offering.
Always remember that any community marketing campaign intends to have a conversation with the members and add value to their lives. Members will start talking about your brand and product themselves when you do that. That’s what communities are all about.
ALSO READ – 6 amazing Community Marketing Ideas that work like a charm
How to measure the impact of Community Marketing?
Any marketing campaign is incomplete without tracking its effectiveness. When it comes to community marketing, there’s a specific set of metrics that you need to track to gauge campaign success.
1. Increase in Category Conversations
Track if the number of conversations around your product category increased or decreased after the campaign and by what percent.
2. Increase in Brand Mentions
Track if the number of mentions for your brand increased after the campaign vs the pre-campaign period.
Learn all about Brand Mentions in this ultimate guide
3. Increase in Brand Share of Voice (SOV)
Share of voice is defined by how often people are talking about your brand vs all other brands in your product category.
Track how often your brand was talked about during the campaign vs the pre-campaign period.
An ideal way to go about it is to see the total number of brands being talked about in communities in your product category and then have a percentage distribution of brand conversations across all brands.
For instance, if five brands are typically talked the most about in the hair care category, then Share of Voice breaks down the % distribution of brand conversations across all five brands, giving the brand perspective on how often it’s recommended or being talked about.
Share of Voice is measured both pre and post-campaign to evaluate the campaign’s impact.
4. Increase in brand’s Positive Sentiment
Analyze member conversations throughout the campaign to understand if your brand is getting a positive response or feedback from the members vs the pre-campaign period.
Third-party community marketing platforms like Convosight can help you measure the impact of your community marketing campaigns on all of the aforementioned important business KPIs inside closed communities on Facebook.
How can Convosight help you get started with Community Marketing?
Convosight came into existence when its founders were busy building Baby Destination, the world’s largest parenting community on Facebook.
When they discovered that 40% or more of the conversations in these communities were members seeking information, they realized that communities are essential for brands. Hence, they began building this one-of-a-kind community marketing platform and launched it in Jan 2020.
Today, Convosight has 100,000+ communities with over 800 million members across key global markets and categories.
We have partnered with over 100 brands across different categories like beauty, wellness, food, health, nutrition, and electronics, to name a few. We have helped them get the maximum ROI for their community marketing campaigns by:
- Helping them find the right communities and extract user insights from raw conversations
- Using those insights to conceptualize campaigns and, with the help of technology, execute them simultaneously across multiple communities
- Measure the impact of these campaigns across different business KPIs
Not just that, we even help brands start their communities and work with them to build, manage, and scale a thriving brand community.
Check out what our partners have to say about us!
If you’re looking to get started with community marketing by building a new brand community or partnering with already established communities, feel free to GET IN TOUCH. Our community marketing expert will reach out to you!
Creating value in the lives of others with my content, little by little.✨
Working at Convosight, I do more than just wrangle commas. I’m passionate about innovating new ways to create super valuable and actionable content about Communities and Community Marketing at large, and sharing it with the right audience.
I also happen to manage a global community of power admins on Facebook, and that’s where most of my learnings come from.
Do check out my latest blogs and feel free to share them! 💛