Although online brand communities are rapidly growing in popularity, we know there’s a burning question many of you still need answered.

How is an online brand community any different from a Facebook group? Do I need one if I’ve already got a large following on social media?”

We know your brand has spent time and put in the work to establish a large presence throughout several different social media platforms. This makes sense, considering the power of social media marketing when it comes to strengthening brands. 

However, there are several ways that an online brand community differs from social media groups and even some ways that the two can work together to provide more value. We think they’re important to consider as you think about your brand’s future. 

How Online Brand Communities Differ From Social Media Groups

Vesta’s online brand community platform might seem similar to social media groups on the surface. 

The reality is that there are some crucial differences between the two that make owning an online brand community a must.

Here are some of the most significant benefits of online brand communities over social media groups. 

First-party data 

Both online brand communities and social media groups allow you to mobilize an audience of consumers and engage with them. You can also collect data through different interactive elements, such as polls or surveys.

The problem is that you don’t actually own the relationship or the data collected with social media groups. The data is owned by a third party and has limitations as to what you can do with it. 

Also, with social media platforms, you’ll be required to spend money on advertising to effectively distribute your posts. 

Vesta is different. Our online brand community platform gives you full ownership of your collected data, allowing you to use it in all your marketing pursuits, such as personalization or media optimization. You’re also able to collect social data from your members’ sharing activities through different channels, such as discussions and advocacy campaigns. 

Branding

If the idea behind an online brand community is to further strengthen and promote your brand, then the ability to insert strong branding elements into your community platform is crucial. 

As it stands, social media platforms don’t give you the freedom to do so. 

Take Facebook, for example. While you browse through a brand’s Facebook group page, the Facebook logo and colors are still prominent throughout. Sure, you get a banner photo and profile picture, but there aren’t many brand customization options beyond that.

Vesta breaks this trend by offering a customizable platform to inject your brand throughout your entire community. In fact, the Vesta logo doesn’t appear anywhere at all. It’s solely your brand and your logo.  

Maintaining a positive brand image and aesthetic throughout is an important part of community building, and Vesta’s online brand community platform gives you all the tools to do so. 

You own the community 

So you’ve created a Facebook group for your brand and set it up. Now you’re in control and you can create the rules, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Social media platforms such as Facebook are in full control of what can and can’t be done within your group. Since your group is owned by a third party, your community members are subject to the rules set up by that third party.

Facebook also has a long history of frequently changing their algorithm leaving many marketers scrambling to keep up. 

Vesta takes you off the rollercoaster of uncertainty and provides you with more leeway to set your own rules. You have more control around your messaging. 

Social media platform negativity 

While social media groups are a powerful tool, there is negativity that surrounds certain platforms and some growing discontent with social media in general. 

Looking at Facebook specifically, a number of brands actually chose to boycott advertising on the platform altogether last year. Depending on your target consumer, there’s legitimacy in questioning whether or not platforms such as Facebook can actually cause harm to your brand from factors such as privacy concerns and even fake news. 

Conversely, an online brand community offers a space free from these concerns associated with social media platforms. You don’t have to worry about your brand being associated with social media platform negativity. 

Should You Manage Both an Online Brand Community and a Social Media Group?

Operating an online brand community provides many advantages that simply cannot be matched by a simple social media group. 

However, we don’t mean to suggest that social media groups are obsolete. In fact, online brand communities are even more effective when working in tandem with social media groups.

Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, all provide powerful channels for word-of-mouth marketing. When online brand communities are connected to these platforms with simple content sharing options like those available with Vesta’s technology, community members can share valuable user-generated content, such as recommendations and product reviews, to a larger audience. 

These social media platforms can also serve as recruiting tools to bring new members into your online brand community. Community members sharing user-generated content on these platforms can often drive online brand community growth. 

Online Brand Communities and Social Media Groups are Both Valuable Brand Building Tools

To answer the initial question: Yes, an online brand community is a crucial marketing tool even if you have an established social media group. 

The differences are clear, from owning your own data to being able to inject your own branding throughout your online brand community pages. Online brand communities provide certain benefits that help strengthen your brand and provide your audience with an online area to connect with other like-minded brand fans. 

When it comes down to it, if you have an established presence throughout different social media platforms, there will be a point when you’re ready to graduate to the next level. Adding an online brand community to the mix can help supercharge your loyalty, advocacy and engagement efforts. 

Have Questions About Online Brand Communities?

If you’re looking for information on Vesta’s online brand communities or brand communities in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We want to hear from you!