With platform popularity shifting and artists as young as six dominating popular music, managing social media becomes increasingly complex. Despite changes in content, metrics, and strategies, the enduring strength of social media communities remains a constant in this dynamic environment.
In the realm of digital marketing, a brand community represents the heart of online interaction, much like a bustling watering hole in a vast digital landscape. It's where users gather to find their people, driven by common likes and interests. In these communities, members engage in real-time, building connections based on shared experiences and values. This environment lends itself to fostering trust, authenticity, and loyalty among users, making these groups invaluable for meaningful brand conversations. Such interactions are not just about connection; they can be a treasure trove of information, vital for any brand's success. Let's dig into the two main benefits of focusing on building a brand community.
Brand communities are powerful catalysts for making connections, offering a platform for customers to share experiences and interact directly with the brand. This engagement not only enhances loyalty and positive sentiment but also cultivates a community of dedicated customers, or brand ambassadors. These ambassadors naturally share their enthusiasm for the brand and products within their networks, effectively spreading the word organically. This grassroots approach to marketing fosters authentic brand awareness, creating a genuine and impactful presence on social media.
Social media allows brands to create and engage alongside users, which in turn provides opportunities to have real-time conversations. This type of interactivity from brand to consumer not only helps to foster two-way conversations but, most importantly, helps to build trust. Once a user feels comfortable sharing their opinions, brands are able to unlock invaluable information about problems people are facing and gauge overall sentiment towards brand initiatives. In other words, your brand gets an inside look from a customer’s point of view. As a brand, getting to a position where you are no longer the outsider looking in but a part of their world is important. Such knowledge lets marketers take thoughtful action — providing solutions, education, and contributions through comments and content. Prioritizing establishing a safe online environment and accessible opportunities to share will open the doors for receiving actionable feedback to make valuable shifts in your business strategy.
A majority of customers, about 60%, feel more loyal to a brand when they have real conversations with it. Similarly, 58% are more likely to buy from a brand that communicates with them. On the business side, 80% of companies confirm that building a community around their brand has boosted website traffic.
For a UK-based beauty brand, the INKEY list, social and community go hand in hand. The team is constantly tapping into audience insights to feed into social planning, and its 24/7 service, #askINKEY, allows consumers to chat with an advisor via main social channels and ask skincare and hair care questions. Its team prioritizes purposeful metrics to understand the impact of content in order to create in a way that’s both purposeful and informative. Community is the brands’ strategy, and as a result, it has a +110% higher engagement than the skincare industry.
So, we’ve established that building a community on social media is essential, but how are social media communities formed? The truth is, they’re not that simple to form, and the brands who have been most successful in building them didn’t simply get there by going viral. Being a trusted member of an online community takes time, consistent work, and, once again, time. There are no shortcuts here, but there are social media community guidelines you can follow. Let us walk you through a few helpful answers on how you can get started.
Creating and building a brand community is one thing, successfully managing it is another. First, let's start with the basics of community building before we get into the best practices and tips for managing a social media community.
As a brand, you have the upper hand in being able to start conversations, so don’t just wait for this to happen. Use this as your sign to start creating conversations with your audience, which you can start to do in three easy steps.
Dash Hudson empowers brands to take action by keeping close tabs on community conversations through its community tracker. With Community, monitor the discussions in a fraction of the time by easily switching between brand accounts within one easy-to-use community inbox. Brands are able to track conversations in real-time to ensure they continue to nurture new and ongoing conversations. Organizational tools such as filtering, tagging, and searching levels allow users to organize their inbox and know exactly where they left off — whether that’s to focus on fostering influencer conversations, improve team collaboration processes, or simply create categories for the feedback that’s received from social media community engagement to inspire ideas and change.
Community also allows brands to track the overall sentiment that is received from Instagram content using Dash Hudson’s AI. Providing a breakdown of the positive, neutral, and negative comments that content receives for faster prioritization and strategic shifts in content production, tailored specifically for your community needs.
According to 90% of users, brand authenticity is extremely important when deciding where they want to invest their dollars. Your brand's authenticity naturally emerges from its personality. Understanding your brand's identity and maintaining consistency across social media is key to authenticity. This is reflected in everything from your content and captions to comments and marketing campaigns.
But first, you need to understand your audience: Who are they? What do they like? Where do they hang out online? Use social media insights to find where your audience is most active. For instance, if they're mainly on Facebook, focus on on building a Facebook community with Groups. If they're TikTok enthusiasts, keep up with sound and keyword trends there. Knowing your audience's preferences allows you to tailor your communication for better results. Take Kendra Scott, for example. They know their audience loves how-to videos for styling jewelry. So, they create personalized, step-by-step videos that their followers adore.
An important piece of advice here is that you can be anything, but not everything, so focus on what value you can provide to your audience through creative content by leveraging insights to find out what makes them tick. Dash Hudson’s campaign tool will allow your team to see how a specific campaign or content pillar processes across holistic social channels, so you can also nail down what specific content performs best and where.
That said, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to content strategy for social channels. Understanding what to prioritize and where will help your team to cut downtime, produce quality assets, and keep the quality conversations going is essential. Boards is a content analysis tool used by Dash Hudson partners to better understand how to best leverage content on your social pages for your community members. This takes away any second guessing by providing brands with real-time numbers.
Furthermore, Dash Hudson’s Campaign analysis tool allows for consistent measurement on holistic social channels. Brands will quickly learn which channels perform best for specific campaigns and learn how to re-strategize content for future decisions. Creativity attracts community, and paying close attention to the data will help ensure you’re always making decisions in the best interest of your social media community members.
Your brand's personality is expressed in various ways, yet the content you create remains crucial. This is particularly true on social media, where a significant 56% of a brand's sales increase from digital campaigns is due to the quality of the creative content. Content is what visually attracts your community through owned discovery and shared resources. Something to keep in mind is that members of a social media community want to feel just as much part of the tribe as you do. Inclusion is the name of the game here.
Luckily, users love to share their own experiences through visuals. Take advantage of user-generated assets by including your community content on your account. This lets others see how others use your products and services through a different POV. Repurposing UGC promotes content generation organically and shows your community that you see them and care. A picture says a thousand words, so leverage valuable insights like Dash Hudson’s AI technology, Vision, to analyze UGC segments for visual feedback. Not only is this beneficial for building relationships, but it also helps to reduce an enormous amount of time spent on creating new in-house assets since you are using what’s in front of you.
Are you having issues with content generation to begin with? Remember, it’s up to you to start conversations, so open up the floor for content sharing through contests, branded sounds, trends, content roundups, and so forth. Points for creativity here.
Glossier has reigned on Instagram for as long as we can remember, and they have been notorious for fostering a solid community by re-sharing UGC on their pages to showcase how their members use their products.
Inclusivity involves more than just sharing your community content, as your social media community needs to be easily accessible. You know that your brand pages exist, but that doesn’t mean others do. Leverage keywords, hashtags, and sounds for discoverability, and be sure to promote your community on different platforms. Leverage a link-in-bio solution like Dash Hudson’s LikeShop to promote where you exist. This can be your different social pages, websites, programs — you name it. It not only provides brands with an avenue for promoting products and services, but with customized content and multi-link options, brands can promote their networks, add CTAs, and track overall performance. Revolve finds success leveraging link-in-bio by making all of its most important social pages accessible so that users can easily find and take action from there. Check out how Revolve leverages custom content to direct traffic to their different social pages.
Pro Tip: Customize your content by adding CTA’s to start, continue, and foster conversations.
Extending your reach will be your best bet for finding and building new internet communities, and what better way to do so than through trusted partnerships? Since the early ages of Instagram, the rise of influencer marketing has created a monumental shift in who brands are able to form relationships with. It was reported that 66% of users have expressed that they genuinely like when brands partner with creators. Marketers need to focus on sourcing quality partners that fit the brand persona to reach new audiences. Popular platforms that revolve around trends require social teams to stay agile and move quickly as trends can last as little as a day. Working with creators who have their roots on specific social platforms helps your brand keep pace while finding new audiences to connect with.
As we mentioned, working alongside influencers is an invaluable way to get in front of new users who may be interested in being a part of your brand journey–but how do you know which influencers are the right fit? In Relationships, brands are able to track potential and existing relationships to look into their overall performance alongside content performance where the brand was mentioned. This will give the team the confidence they need to outreach, partner, and nurture influencer/creator partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
Finally, utilizing insights will allow you time to show off the results that your hard work toward creating a solid social media community has contributed. When you’re a Manager, Data Analyst, Creative Director, Entertainer, and Customer Support Representative all in one (Social Media Managers, we are looking at you), it’s important to be able to report efficiently. Dashboards allow teams to have a consistent look at cross-channel performance on an automated and customized basis. Setting up your custom dashboard not only tracks your efforts but gives you time back in your day to focus on the important things—your loyal social media community base.
In-person gatherings offer brands a unique opportunity to immerse their audience in their brand world through real-life experiences. Hosting events can be a strategic way to bring an online community together physically. These events enable the sharing of ideas and interests, mirroring the interactions that happen online. Offering these real-life experiences provides a compelling incentive for the audience to engage more deeply with the brand's social media community. They can meet face-to-face, creating a network within the brand's community.
Brands like Revolve excel in this area, consistently organizing pop-ups, events, and opportunities for their followers to connect, network, and experience the brand's world firsthand.
Social communities are groups created by users, brands, or organizations to allow individuals to make real-time connections and build on common experiences. An example of this is the Sephora Beauty Insider Community. It's a major component of the popular Beauty Insider loyalty program, offering a dynamic online and mobile space for beauty enthusiasts. This platform enables members to engage in themed groups like 'Sensitive Skin' and 'Makeup is Life', fostering tailored discussions and content discovery. Key features include real-time Conversations, a Gallery for sharing makeup love and inspiration (pulled from Instagram UGC where Sephora asks to share with the community and link the products mentioned in the post), and the Live Community Chat for instant product advice. Accessible through the Sephora app and mobile web, this community embodies a modern approach to interactive brand engagement in the beauty industry.
It is possible to grow your social media community in a variety of ways, but some of the most effective ways of doing this are engaging with your audience, utilizing user-generated content, making your community accessible and inclusive, as well as hosting events to start building trust with your audience.
It’s easy to identify the brands that have nurtured their online communities well. A few commonalities that you’ll find from brands that have successfully created an excellent online community are as follows. If their audiences consistently engage with creator/brand content, this is a very good sign of a thriving online community effort. If you’re focused on competitive reporting, keep an eye on the brands' competitors with higher engagement rates. There’s a good chance that social community is a main priority. If UGC generation on discovery pages is centered around specific brand products or topics, this is another sign that a brand has successfully cultivated an online community in a big way.