How you can use community engagement to build your business brand
Community marketing provides strong value for target market. Hustle24 Nigeria looks at how you can deploy the strategy to build your business brand.
When any business seeks intimacy as a strategy to obtain strong emotional preference over competition, there is hardly a better tool than connecting deeply with existing community.
How? When you build your marketing efforts around a set of people who share common interests, by interacting with the people based on their interest as often as possible, your business will succeed in turning prospective buyers to friends, and later advocates. That is one of the advantages of community marketing.
Communities are like body cells. Hardly can the body grow where the cells are not functioning adequately. Therefore building any brand requires reaching deeper to connect with the activities of the cells. Body cells transport essential mineral (say carry brand info by word of mouth when it comes to marketing), they reproduce (that is generate lead) and conduct metabolism (broaden brand goodwill).
It is the tactic deployed when Gokada started operation in Lagos. Starting with students in UNILAG, the bike-hailing firm was able to penetrate the entire city market. It could have continued to dominate if Chinese ‘sweet-money’ had not hijacked the market via another firm called Oride.
Simply put, by locating a lively group that shares a fit (common interest and value) with the projection of the brand, and investing in buttressing their experience, a brand is setting itself up for expansion.
A community is a living group. There are different kinds. There are student community, tourist community, women community, nursing mother community, men community, children community, singles community, sports community, academic community, fashion community, professional community, technical community, music community, arts community, sports community, media community, business community, religious community, youth community, political community and much more.
A community may be small or large by structure. The most important thing to look out for is their level of interaction, consistency and relevance. So long a community is bound by a common identity and thrives by weaving consistent interaction is it a valid shot for marketers.
Meanwhile in marketing, while segments also exhibit shared identity, they are static and do not interact; but a community exists to communicate and look after each other because of shared life experience. Also while you can’t neglect segmentation, it can only yield prediction and probability. Precisely, it is the community that brings life and beams light on the brand.
Building a community around a brand is like beating a path into a larger market. Or, it can be compared to finding a route into a larger society. When a brand locates a community and etches its presence in its daily life – by taking up issues that concern them, celebrating what matters to them and making a huge presence in their daily lives – such brand gains leverage that automatically drive communication and gradual integration into a wider existence. The impact of the brand on one community, like how cells reproduce, will spillover into a larger life in cities, countries and industries.
More, building a community around a brand is like getting married to a spouse, and ensuring he or she gets constant pampering. That pampering efforts will bring out soothing smiles and simple joy. When reference is being made to the source of that elevated experience, the source gains extensive goodwill.
It is also like being the life-blood of a group of people (a community by providing platforms that elevate their way of interacting and living), this blood automatically flows to the heart of the group and forms a larger part of its existence. It is a basic road to market for brands who are at their introductory stages. It is how Facebook grew by tapping the affection of young people; It is also how Yahoo! and Linkdln grew by enriching the lives of professionals.
What is Promasidor’s ‘Cowbell’ without teenagers in colleges? What is ‘Milo’ without youngsters dreaming of a future in basketball? What is Nike without the Olympics? What is Microsoft without a legion of developers all around the world? What is the English Premiership without micro-support fan-base in every part of the world?
The good news is the brand doesn’t have to create create community. That will take too much money and effort. Communities are found everywhere. If you intend to build your brand through community engagement, you need to:
- Locate a community; possibly one or two;
- Research if there is a fit (a share interest) between the brand and the desired experience of the community or group;
- Ensure the community has a deeper connection and interactive nature, like, for instance how GTBank is tagging along fashionistas; and Pepsi and Coca Cola fighting to own a larger space in the hearts of the music community
- Form a larger presence by enhancing the interactive and engaging experience of this community
- Celebrate them i.e. support days, season and events that matter to them.