Your business needs a community, not just customers. What’s the difference?
Community members are engaged with you before and after a sale. They follow you and your business on social channels and in real life. They consume your products, but also your content, reacting to it and sharing their thoughts and impressions along the way. These people become ambassadors for your brand and advocates for your products. For your business to survive the long haul, you need to keep them impressed and actively involved in what you do.
Building a community doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a long-term play. But if you take small steps towards it every day, it will happen. Here are some ways to get started.
Welcome first-timers warmly
Create a good first impression and people will talk about you and maybe post a review. Both help build your community.
Send an email after a first-time buyer’s purchase, welcoming them to your company and your community. Ask for feedback and impressions, directing them to your web site or social channels to share their thoughts.
Create community spaces
Providing opportunities for customers to connect, engage and share not only solidifies their relationships with one another, but also provides a reason for them to stay with your business. Online, this can take the form of a simple community bulletin board, a more complex digital forum or even an annual community event.
Other ideas? Conduct polls and surveys (consider offering something to encourage participation) and share videos of customers using your product. Solicit comments and encourage other customers to post their own videos. Develop a unique hash tag and include it in all your posts and updates.
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Stand for something
A charity of choice you donate to, a project you volunteer on, a business partnership your company has made – look for ways to show that supporting you has a pay-it-forward effect.
This video shows how aligning your brand with like-minded organizations can help you build your brand and your community:
Address the emotion behind the sale
Yes, you want people to buy your product, but to build community, you need to tap into the feelings behind the purchase.
When people buy clothes, for example, they might want to feel powerful and strong; if they’re buying almost anything for their kids, they want to feel like good parents. Figure out what emotions drive people who use your products and create ways for them to express those feelings.
Write blogs about that passion without selling anything. Post images, video, even memes about that passion without driving to your store. This relevant content is what will grow your community.
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