Why You Should Build An Online Community

Here’s why building a community around your brand will be crucial for success in 2021.

Communities in 2021

The power of community has gone from strength to strength throughout the pandemic. Support for local businesses has increased, and groups such as Scrub Hub have been making a meaningful impact on society. But communities don’t have to be built around a social cause – most brands have some form of community, including yours.

Those that regularly shop with you or interact with your brand can be considered fans. You offer something unique that means they pay attention to your business more than the thousands of others vying for screen time. Your business doesn’t have to be in e-commerce either. 

Intrinsically offline experiences like festivals often have informal communities run by fans on Facebook. The social media giant is continually pushed aside in favour of younger platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, but it remains the best place to find and build communities. Over 1.8 billion users are in a Facebook group.

The Benefits of Having a Community

Mark Zuckerberg has steadily gearing the platform towards ‘meaningful interactions’, with an emphasis on groups. The Facebook algorithm now favours posts from groups and friends as opposed to business pages. Building a community group around your brand combines all three elements in a way that is agreeable for both you and your fans.

There are more benefits to having a community than just a higher spot in your customers’ news feed. Having all your most loyal and dedicated fans in one place provides excellent opportunities for product promotion and up-selling. Your marketing efforts won’t be in vain as you already know existing members possess a strong interest in your brand. Think of it as a social media mailing list, only with much more interactivity and content diversity.

From a consumer behaviour perspective, humans are social animals. We like to find people with similar interests and form tribes. We also dislike being ‘sold to’. Communities provide a happy medium – members can connect with fellow fans, and you can gently promote your business through ‘soft-selling’ techniques such as branded content and Q&As.

Discussions between group members can be the perfect place to gather candid feedback about your products, services or experiences. It’s also an excellent way to acquire user-generated content (UGC), which is becoming increasingly important as the appeal of highly-polished content wanes. If you plan to use such content, ask permission from the author first – a key reason why communities are on the rise is due to their more personal, private nature. Your interactions as the brand should feel this way too – don’t just post the same content you use on your public channels. Make the community feel especially valued through sneak-peeks, exclusive discounts and more.

Case Study: Noisily Festival

We know all about community management here at E1MA. We supported the creation and growth of the Noisily Festival of Music & Arts Community. The group has grown by 15% to 5,000 members since the start of the pandemic, despite the event being postponed to 2021. This perfectly encapsulates the draw of Facebook communities in current times. People aren’t just joining and ignoring the group either – 3.5k members actively engage with community content, which includes Noisily videos, mixes and industry news & discussion. It’s a space where the most dedicated fans can share memories, mixes and discuss all things Noisily.

The benefits for Noisily Festival themselves are clearly to see. It gives members a chance to air their concerns and provide feedback through interactive Q&As. We can promote the latest Noisily merchandise directly to the loyal fans. It allows Noisily to share important festival updates that would otherwise be ignored by the Facebook algorithm. Most importantly, it’s fun for everyone involved!

In their own words, the Noisily community contains “big characters, big ideas, dynamic dysfunction and enthusiasm that knows no bounds”.

Concluding Words

Communities are the future of social media. Mark Zuckerberg certainly thinks so, and so do the E1MA team. The end of highly targeted advertising is coming. Google is phasing out third-party cookies, and Apple plans to block apps from using personal data for promotional purposes. Soft marketing techniques are on the rise. This includes influencer marketing, branded content and community management. If you still need convincing, let’s not forget Pareto’s principle – 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers. Make sure they’re a part of your community.

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