Your brand is one of the most important assets your business owns (no pressure).
What are you doing today to strengthen it for tomorrow?
There’s a good chance you’ve already spent a significant amount of time trying to achieve this goal. From logos and brand messaging to crafting the perfect mission statement and cultivating an audience, you’ve put in the work to get your brand to where it is now.
But what about a welcoming and vibrant home for these consumers?
An online brand community is exactly what you need to bring your audience together, securing long-term success.
Let’s have a look at what an online brand community entails and dive into some genuine success stories from brands just like yours.
What is an Online Brand Community?
An online brand community is a destination where your consumers can come together and engage with your brand and other like-minded people. This can range from consumers with a beginning interest in your product or service to those who believe strongly in your brand’s mission, lifestyle, and purpose.
It’s important to note that an online brand community is not a social media group. We understand that many brands already have established audiences on other platforms. However, some benefits are exclusive to online brand communities.
Why Create an Online Brand Community?
If you’ve already got an audience on several platforms, why bother with an online brand community? Isn’t it just another platform to manage and moderate?
The truth is that an online brand community can elevate and strengthen your brand far beyond what social media platforms can do.
Increase your marketing efficiency
An online brand community is a perfect solution for resource-strapped teams. You can easily streamline all of your consumer acquisition, retention, and brand loyalty efforts in one place.
With Vesta, in particular, we’ve seen brands able to replace 4+ other marketing tools and vendors, and save both time and money. Our technology and team have the capabilities and experience to fully deliver on sampling campaigns, UGC aggregation, ambassador and influencer management, consumer research and polling, and rewards programs to name just a few.
You can also use an online brand community to collect valuable insights from your audience. Use this to keep up with various trends and gather feedback about your brand as a whole.
Strengthen your brand’s reach
One of the primary benefits of an online brand community is strengthening your brand and increasing its reach. With this new dedicated space for loyal consumers, they can create authentic and shareable content to help reach new audiences. And you’ll have access to a library of license-free, high-quality content that you fully own to enrich product pages and marketing campaigns.
User-generated content is also one of the strongest forms of social proof. Not only can it help increase sales conversions, but it can also draw in more consumers who want to be a part of the community themselves.
Create a channel for full data ownership
One of the most prominent issues with groups and pages on social media platforms is that you’re subject to their rules and policies. There are four main reasons why this is detrimental to your community:
- You don’t own the data you collect
- You don’t make the rules
- You have limited branding opportunities
- You can’t control the negative perception of the platform as a whole (Facebook, for example)
An online brand community helps you avoid all of these pitfalls associated with other platforms. You’ll be able to collect zero-party data and first-party data that is yours to keep and use in future marketing endeavors. You can create rules that make sense for both your team and your community members. You’re able to create an authentic branded space using logos, color schemes, brand language, and more. The possibilities are seemingly endless when compared to other platforms, such as Facebook.
Examples of Successful Online Brand Communities
To demonstrate the power of community, let’s look at some examples of brands who have found continued success with online brand communities and what makes them unique.
Grubhub recognized that word-of-mouth promotion is a powerful tool for driving conversions and strengthening their brand. This was the inspiration for creating their “Tastemakers” communities: Online brand communities for general diners and for college campuses that have generated thousands of brand engagements and authentic user-generated content.
With their new communities, Grubhub has been actively encouraging members to participate in campaigns that spark social sharing. This could be anything from simply posting and sharing photos on Instagram to hosting a full virtual dinner party with friends.
Grubhub took advantage of Vesta’s extensive opportunities to collect first-party data as well. Through surveys, polls, and discussion boards, Grubhub collects data, segments their audience, and delivers relevant offers that appeal to everyone.
In less than one year, Vesta has helped Grubhub reach over 53,000 community members. Want to see more of the ROI their community has delivered? Check out this case study.
When hello products sought an advocacy solution for making new brand friends, Vesta was there to answer the call. With a strong website, e-commerce, captivating content, and video, the “hello friends” community was the missing piece of hello’s complete online brand presence. The community helped hello products create a vibrant home for their consumers and bring their mission alive.
User-generated content is at the forefront of the hello friends community, with thousands of images, recommendations, and testimonials generated. Their community members spark brand advocacy and help drive conversions on the brand website. From general brand awareness to specific product promotion, community members are there to provide a boost.
With Vesta, hello products generated over 86,000 pieces of UGC, reviews, and recommendations. Check out this case study to see the other loyalty, advocacy and purchase increases hello welcomed from their community.
Like many new brands, hello products is looking to challenge the status quo and take on the “big guys.” The brains behind hello products, serial entrepreneur Craig Dubitsky, shared how he can disrupt the market with curiosity and observation on our podcast.
Sir Kensington’s wanted a community for health-conscious foodies that don’t want to skimp out on flavor.
With Vesta, they created a vibrant online brand community that helps them build genuine brand loyalty through a channel owned by Sir Kensington’s themselves.
One of the most crucial aspects of Sir Kensington’s online brand community is its direct access to consumers to co-create new products. They can directly communicate with their customers and collaborate to release unique sauces requested by their audience.
Sir Kensington’s has also tapped into the insights gathered from zero-party data and first-party data to understand what resonates with their audience.
In less than a year, Sir Kensington’s had 13,000 pieces of user-generated content created. Want to see more of the ways community members said “Yes, Sir!” to the brand and community? Check out this case study.
When asked about the difference between a social media page or traditional marketing channels and an online brand community, Sir Kensington’s head of community strategy said “platforms like instagram and email are one-way communication channels better served for broadcasting news and updates. With Vesta, we are building a community of fans that are invited to co-create with us, which deepens our relationship with each member in a unique way.” To hear more about their experience, listen to their full interview on our podcast.
Seventh Generation’s need for a community came from a desire to educate and rally consumers around their strong brand mission. More specifically, they wanted to create a space for parents entering a phase where they are thinking about what kinds of products they purchase, and the lifestyle they choose for their growing family.
With Generation Good, Seventh Generation has created a space where parents can share and seek advice about parenting and healthy living. The lifestyle-focused community empowers and inspires parents to take action on these important issues.
The community has been a goldmine for fostering connections between members and sparking brand advocacy with both current and potential customers.
Seventh Generation has used their community to engage with consumers in all parts of the customer journey. In fact, it turned out that 60% of their community members had never actually tried the brand and were looking for a community to connect with others about the lifestyle. The brand was able to drive new customer acquisition just from the community’s value alone. You can learn more in their case study.
On their mission to offer healthy and delicious food choices to families across America, Veggies Made Great was looking for a way to cultivate meaningful relationships with their passionate fans.
They initially struggled with building their own consumer community, lacking the effective tools and expertise to manage the community and maximize its potential.
With Vesta’s help, Veggies Made Great provided an on-brand, welcoming destination for those looking to make healthier food choices and share in the lifestyle. They’ve even managed to mix in some fun activities and campaigns, including one campaign where members were asked to plant discount coupons in stores worldwide and spread the word on social media.
With their Vesta community as a whole, Veggies Made Great saw a 25% increase in sales! You can check out some of the other great results – and fun UGC – Veggies Made Great has harvested from their community in this case study.
Online Brand Communities are Crucial For Strengthening Your Brand
While all of these successful brands have established audiences on other platforms, none of the game-changing advocacy, social proof, or sales growth would have been possible without the help of their online brand community.
From increasing your overall marketing efficiency to collecting valuable first-party data, there’s no denying the importance of an online brand community to your overall brand strategy. This welcoming home for your audience can help drive conversions through word-of-mouth promotion, generate powerful recommendations and user-generated content, and help inform your future marketing efforts.
Get set up with an online brand community of your own, and you can create your own community success story. Your audience is waiting.
Looking For More Information On Brand Communities?
Reach out to us with any questions you have about online brand communities. We would love your feedback to help us create valuable future content!