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Community Marketing: 6 Steps to Building a Brand Community [+5 Examples]

Contents
Tupperware parties. The OG of community marketing.

Back in the 1950s, Tupperware was hosting parties for women to participate in. The parties were hosted by Tupperware representatives, who were often friends or family members of the attendees. 

The ultimate goal was to build a community around the brand, Tupperware. And they did that. They managed to build a loyal following that exists to this day.

Well, community marketing has come a long way since. Let’s see how long.

What is Community Marketing?

Community marketing involves the intentional cultivation of a community around a brand, product, or service.

It’s a type of organic marketing, meaning that it tries to achieve an online presence organically and not rely on paid ads. 

Community marketing prioritizes relationships and conversations, and creates a sense of belonging among members of your target audience. Through community marketing, businesses build brand loyalty and increase customer engagement.

A community can take many forms. The most common of these forms are online forums, social media groups, and Discord servers. All of them act as a space for members and customers to connect with one another, while at the same time connect with your brand.

The Good & The Bad of Community Marketing

Like any kind of marketing, community marketing has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of its more standing-out nuances.

The Good

1. Enhanced Customer Loyalty

A community creates a sense of belonging and builds relationships among its members. By creating a community where they can engage with each other and with your brand, you establish a deeper connection, leading to increased customer loyalty and advocacy.

2. Word-of-mouth marketing

Speaking of advocacy, a community can become a powerful tool for word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied community members are very likely to share their positive experiences with others, leading to organic brand awareness and new customer acquisition.

3. Increased Customer Lifetime Value

Through engagement, a successful community fosters happy customers and happy customers have a higher lifetime value (CLV). In turn, a higher CLV means higher revenue and more profit.

Customer Lifetime Value CLV growth metrics
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

4. Customer Insights and Feedback

A community can serve as a thumbnail of your customer base. Engaging with your community allows you to gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points. Through feedback, discussions, and surveys you can receive powerful information and insights and put them to good use.

5. Support & Peer-to-peer Help

Communities often serve as support networks where customers can seek assistance, share knowledge, and help each other. Therefore, a community can not only reduce the burden on your customer support team but also create a positive customer experience by providing a platform for peer-to-peer help.

The Bad

1. Time and Resource Intensive

As with any marketing activity, community marketing doesn’t run on auto-pilot. Building and maintaining a healthy brand community requires time and resources. Accordingly, you will need to invest in community management, content creation, engagement activities, and ongoing moderation.

2. Limited control over user-generated content

Community members do not just consume content passively. Many of them also like to create content; user-generated content. While user-generated content is authentic and creates engagement, it can also create misinformation and inappropriate content that may impact your brand reputation.

3. Difficulty in Measuring ROI

Community marketing, like most branches of organic marketing, isn’t always easy to measure. Especially since its mission is not to sell immediately but rather to enhance the brand. Therefore, measuring the ROI of community marketing can be challenging.

6 Steps to Get Started With Community Marketing

That’s enough theory for now. The question is, if you are interested in community marketing, how do you get started? Here are 6 steps to make it happen.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

In case you haven’t done this yet, you have to understand your audience as much as you can: their demographics, interests, and pain points. To do so, you can do market research, analyze customer data, and engage in social listening to gain insight. You can even go as far as creating customer personas, too.

Buyer Persona Template GrowthRocks 1 1024x576 1
Customer/ buyer persona template

2. Choose the Right Platform

Select a platform that aligns with your audience. Some of the most popular categories and options include:

  • Social media groups, e.g. meetups, workshops
  • Dedicated forums, e.g.Reddit, Discourse
  • Community platforms, e.g. Discord, Tribe
  • OTT platforms, e.g. Uscreen, Movie
  • Offline events, e.g. meetups, workshops

3. Time for Action

a. Actively participate and respond

Needless to say, you need to be present in the community and engage with members. The usual way to do so is by responding to their comments, questions, and feedback. Show that you value their input and appreciate their involvement.

b. Craft compelling content

Create and curate content that resonates with your audience. Share relevant industry news, helpful resources, and engaging discussions to spark conversations and encourage participation within the community.

c. Encourage user-generated content

Content in any type of community shouldn’t be a one-way street. Motivate community members to create and share their own content, such as product reviews, testimonials, or original content. Highlight and showcase the best contributions. Which brings us to the next part.

d. Showcase member success stories – reward community members

Highlight and celebrate community members’ achievements, whether it’s reaching a personal milestone or using your product in innovative ways. This encourages a sense of pride and inspires other members to become as engaged. Also, consider using badges and any relative insignia to the most active members or those members that offer the most value, according to your terms.

e. Offer exclusive perks & benefits

Everyone loves exclusive benefits;  it makes them feel special. In turn, exclusive benefits incentivize community participation. A few examples of those benefits include:

  • Early access to new products
  • Exclusive discounts
  • Special promotions
  • Sneak peeks
  • Behind-the-scenes content
f. Cultivate brand advocate

Identify passionate community members who are vocal about your brand. Offer them opportunities to become ambassadors or advocates, providing them with exclusive perks and incentives.

4. Introduce gamification

Gamification in marketing is all about creating engagement – the fuel of any community. Therefore you need to adopt gamification tactics, such as challenges, competitions, or loyalty programs, to motivate active participation. Reward members for their engagement and create a sense of friendly competition.

5. Moderate and Manage

Communities need moderation from day one. And as your community grows, effective moderation becomes essential. Set clear guidelines and rules for community behavior to maintain a positive and respectful atmosphere. Spam, inappropriate content, or conflicts are part of community life and it’s your job, or rather the job of the moderator(s) you equip,  to ensure a smooth community life and operation.

6. Evaluate and Iterate

Like with any marketing activity, you will also have to measure and optimize your community marketing efforts. You will probably want to monitor engagement metrics, such as active members, comments, shares, and conversions. 

5 Community Marketing Examples for Inspiration

1. Lego Ideas

LEGO Ideas, formerly known as Lego Cuusoo, is a website dedicated to LEGO enthusiasts. Members of the community can vote for their favorite designs and even make designs themselves. The best ideas have the chance to be turned into official LEGO sets. LEGO is known for making all the right marketing moves and tying its marketing activities directly to its products

 

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This community is another such successful example and allows its customers and members to actively participate in their product design and become part of LEGO themselves. Through its crowdsourcing innovation, LEGO Ideas taps into the creativity and passion of its fan base.

2. Twitch’s Creator Camp

Twitch, the popular streaming platform, launched Creator Camp in 2018 and it’s still active to this day.  Creator Camp is an educational resource that helps newcomers and wanna-be streams to learn the basics of streaming. In the same fashion, they learn how to build up a channel, connect with fans, and earn rewards.

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The goal of Creator Camp is to help and educate its content creators through a vibrant and supportive streaming community. The program provides resources, tutorials, and networking opportunities to help streamers enhance their channels and engage with their audiences.

3. Duolingo’s Language Learning Community

Duolingo, the popular language-learning platform, has a big and thriving community. It’s a place where learners connect with fellow language enthusiasts, participate in discussions, and receive feedback on their progress.

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Duolingo’s community enhances the learning experience, provides motivation, and facilitates peer-to-peer support, resulting in higher user engagement and retention. And they even organize their own offline events (image above)!

4. Sephora’s Beauty Insider 

Community marketing comes in all shapes and sizes and this is a success story from the beauty industry. Sephora, the multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products (and 340 brands!) has established Beauty Insider Community. With more than 25 million members, Beauty Insider is a testament to its popularity and effectiveness. The community features product reviews, tutorials, and exclusive member perks.

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Sephora’s focus on personalization has helped it stand out from other loyalty programs. What’s more, the program offers a wide variety of ways for redeeming points, including exclusive promotions, discounts, and access to masterclass events. Ultimately, Sephora’s rewards program manages to provide emotional and, above all, memorable experiences.

5. Lululemon’s Sweatlife Community

Lululemon, the athletic apparel brand is known for its effective marketing, from creating a strong brand identity to its social media and influencer marketing. It’s also known for its Sweatlife Community, a place that brings together fitness enthusiasts to participate in events, workshops, and challenges. 

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Members of the community Lululemon have inspiring stories, fitness tips, and user-generated content. The Sweatlife Community is also no stranger to offline events. Accordingly, they organize annual global initiatives such as the Sweatlife Festival, which includes outdoor fitness sessions, meet-ups with brand ambassadors, and workshops.

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