12 Most Basic Elements For Building A Community Around Your Brand

12 Most Basic Elements For Building A Community Around Your Brand

Brands are bigger than the products or services they provide. They are about people, about passionate users and followers who share their experiences good and bad. A strong and vibrant community can make or break a brand, but creating one is not as hard as you might think.

1. Create a common ground

People come together based on shared values and interests. Music, charity, sustainable living, and even Charlie Sheen’s demise have all served as a means of creating community.

2. Give them something to believe in

People aren’t passionate about products. They’re passionate about innovative ideas, people changing the world, and giving back to others, so look for a high-level vision that matches your company mission and can unite a community of followers.

3. Establish the rules of engagement

Be upfront about what is and isn’t acceptable within the community. Include any guidelines for foul language, types of topics discussed, how members of the community should treat each other, etc. and openly post them where followers can see them.

4. Give them a place to talk

Too often brands try to keep customers segregated. Don’t. Bring then together on social media, at events, at your place of business, or anywhere else where they can mingle and make connections amongst themselves.

5. Give them a sense of a shared history

When we feel like we have a shared experience we feel like we belong somewhere. A history with a particular disease, concern for our children, a visit to the same national park—any experience can act as a starting point for establishing a history.

6. Give them ways to contribute

Let them share letters, videos, photos, and other content that they create themselves. Also look for ways to let them add to the culture, rules, and other elements of the community structure.

7. Encourage self-regulation

Don’t be so quick to jump in and address complaints, naysayers, or customer service questions. Often your community will jump in and do it for you. Not only does this make it easier for you to manage, it further creates a sense of ownership and buy in for your community members.

8. Avoid bribery

Occasional contests and rewards are good, but don’t immediately jump to bribery to gain followers. Number one, once the precedent is set they will always wait for you to offer something before they are willing to do something for you. Two, a strong community relies on a visceral connection between its members and the company. You can’t buy their love.

9. Create social capital/currency

As members participate they should be earning credits (figuratively speaking) for their involvement. As they do they can redeem them for favors. Just like neighbors sharing sugar and lawn tools, members of the community should be able to ask for and give assistance to others.

10. Give them ways to communicate directly with you

You can’t isolate yourself from your followers or send them to an off-shore customer service center. Social media, named representatives, and other forums make it easy for customers to reach you with praise, questions, concerns, and feedback. The more that they feel like you are listening the more they will contribute (and tell their friends).

11. Apply the feedback they share

Don’t just passively accept feedback. If twenty customers tell you they want a new feature then look into ways to give it to them. Communities provide low-cost but invaluable market and product development research. Don’t waste it. Plus, when a customer knows they had a hand in improving or creating a product or service they are going to tell everyone they know. You can’t buy marketing or loyalty like that.

12. Be Flexible

Its hard to let go of control, especially when it comes to your brand, but in order to build a vibrant community you need to be willing to let it go into a direction you hadn’t considered. A community is bigger than you. You need to let it become whatever it will.

Featured image courtesy of mikebaird licensed via creative commons.

 

Shennandoah Diaz

http://www.brassknucklesmedia.com

Shennandoah Diaz is the CEO and Master of Mayhem of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to innovative, socially conscious experts and businesses. Diaz is the Rebel Leader of the Brass Knuckles Revolution, a movement teaching people how to live up to their potential while also doing something meaningful for others. She accomplishes this by teaching social entrepreneurship and mentoring people on how to build meaningful organizations through such outlets as Sharp Skirts, Next Fest, and Tech Ranch Austin.

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16 comments
katestewart
katestewart

I appreciate the respect for community members in your advice. You encourage as much autonomy, free expression, and self-monitoring as possible. Please write more!

EmilianoV
EmilianoV

#6 also has the benefit that many of those customers that share content will also be your early adopters. Great post Shennandoah and keep them coming

danenow
danenow

I feel especially impacted by #2: give them something to believe in! My intention for my site is to give people hope and knowledge to make each year of their lives better than the year before, via extreme health and longevity! A site for x-ers and boomers who feel passionately that life begins after age 40!

Nicely written, Shennandoah! Thanks for sharing this.

SoloBizCoach
SoloBizCoach

Great article @ShennandoahDiaz . For blogs, what is the best way to give your community a way to talk? Commenting certainly comes to mind. Are there other ways? I would love to open up my site more to my community.

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

Ok - so give me the 12 most important ways to apply this to our community at 12 Most :)

Great post #SD < going to call you that for short ok?

Love having you here at 12 Most and look forward to your upcoming posts.

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@EmilianoV Thanks Emiliano! People need to buy in to a system and need to feel like they are apart of it before they can be called to action, so #6 is a great one to remember. Thanks for the feedback!

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@danenow Hey Dane!

Yes, its so important for any venture that people have something to believe in. If you're going to do something it should be something that matters. Good luck on your project and thanks for the kind words!

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@SoloBizCoach A few ideas are you can start a closed group on either Linked In or Facebook so they can converse directly with each other while still allowing you to monitor the interactions. You can also create a forum or community section on your website. Google connect enables this to a point, but you can talk to your developer/web manager to see what capabilities you have. Also look into ways you can add user generated content and to let them share as much as possible.

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@danielnewmanUV Thanks Daniel! Yes, you can shorten it in post. Sometimes it's too long for me to type :-) I look forward to being a part of the 12 Most Tribe!

ty_sullivan
ty_sullivan

@ShennandoahDiaz I did! We are gearing up for her 3rd BDay next wk. Lots of excitement at the house as the build up begins lol

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