Why is online community important for brands in 2023?
It is clear that there are many benefits to users that participate in online communities. These range from creating a connection with people with a shared interest to learning new things and gaining inspiration. However, online communities do not just benefit the user - there is a lot to be gained for brands too:
Online communities can be a great place to learn what your audience likes and dislikes. You can find out what their pain points are and, therefore, what you can do to improve their experience based on information from the people who use your product or service. Using social listening, you can see what your customers are saying about a particular product to understand better how well it is being received and use that information to develop it or as a way of seeing how your business is talked about - is it perceived the way you think it is?
88% of consumers trust word-of-mouth the most, so having an online community that talks about your brand successes are a valuable source of brand awareness. It is a free method of promotion and is sometimes more effective than your marketing efforts as it comes from real users without bias. It is also a key area people towards the middle of the funnel will go to seek validation for your product/service. For a greater understanding of the funnel, have a look at our ski slope funnel, which explains the different levels in the style of a piste.
Fans of your brand can be your biggest asset. How can you reward them for loyalty, encouraging them to share their stories and insight further?
When a consumer of your product has a query, an online community is an ideal place for them to get help and feedback. If this is on a user-built community, then this all happens without you having to lift a finger, not only enhancing the customers’ experience but saving you money too. Or, if it is in your brand-built community, it provides value by satisfying the customer and building an engaging relationship, which is the foundation of customer loyalty.
Customer support questions provide valuable data regarding the struggles or queries your community regularly faces. Do some digging. Which questions do you find coming up time and time again? Could you write a blog post answering these common questions?
If you want to improve your brand in 2023, listening to what your customers have to say and gaining real insight into their experience via an online community is necessary. Utilise these platforms to create that emotional investment from your audience that will lead them to financial investment in your brand. This is ultimately a safer option, as relying on social media platforms is risky because they are out of your control. Creating your online community from something like a membership website gives you the ultimate control and deeper insight into your audience.