Your consumers are your most under-utilized asset. By engaging your best consumers, you can secure your next consumers and elevate your relationships to deliver powerful advocacy, insights, sales growth, and lasting loyalty.
Community marketing makes engaging with your consumers easy and effective, mobilizing your advocates to increase brand awareness, drive acquisition, nurture customer relationships, and more.
Is your brand using community marketing to the fullest?
We can help. Here are 14 community marketing ideas that you can put into action today, along with some examples of brands taking advantage of them.
1. Create a Reviews Pipeline Through Sampling
Effective review generation should be a top priority for brands, especially considering that two out of three shoppers will read a review before purchasing a product or service.
If you want to generate more authentic and valuable reviews, sampling is one of the best ways to do it.
Let’s look at Hero Cosmetics, a fast-growing premium beauty brand. They needed to support sell-through at two key retailers: Target and Ulta. So they turned to the members of the Hero Skin Squad Community to come to their rescue.
For Target, Hero Cosmetics established a campaign that rewarded community members who shared a photo or video of themselves with Hero’s brand new Clear Collective product line. All community members who shared were put into a drawing to win a Hero Cosmetics swag bag stocked with products.
When Hero Cosmetics launched at Ulta, they wanted to make sure they showed their new retailer the love. Hero activated members of their community to visit Ulta, sample the products and share a video or photo with their Hero product in hand. All participants were put into a drawing for another of their popular swag bags.
These campaigns allowed Hero Cosmetics to mobilize their community members to sample the products and share their experiences. They also gained countless high-quality user-generated content (UGC) that they could repurpose for additional brand building and awareness efforts. The members of the Hero Skin Squad community have truly turned out to be “heroes” for the brand.
2. Enhance Brand Ambassador Engagement
Turning consumers into brand ambassadors takes effort, but it provides your brand with unparalleled value. Brand ambassadors provide valuable and honest feedback, while also being raving advocates for your brand.
Clio Snacks, makers of delicious yogurt treats, were believers in the power of harnessing their highly vocal consumers as ambassadors. After building a group on Facebook to see how they could get consumers to advocate and take action on behalf of the brand, they knew they were onto something. But at 125 ambassadors, they realized it wasn’t sustainable. So they turned to Vesta to start their Clio Cravings Club.
They wanted a destination that they owned and where they were free to build one-to-one relationships at scale to drive co-creation and to inspire ambassadors to be “megaphones” of behalf of the brand, amplifying content and supporting retail relationships through reviews and user-generated content (UGC). They also saw community as immeasurably valuable in generating actionable market gutchecks and ongoing audience learnings.
“We see such value with an ambassador program because we can get so much strong insight from a very valuable consumer base while also driving long-term loyalty” – Rachel Moore, Chief Marketing Officer, Clio Snacks
Today the Clio Cravings Club community delivers delicious benefits to consumer ambassadors hungry to engage with the brand. They have the opportunity to influence product innovation, to be the first to know about new flavors, to engage with the brand and fellow fans in discussions and campaigns, and to receive exclusive offers and branded swag. And in just one years, their numbers have exploded by 2300%.
3. Drive Word-Of-Mouth
Word-of-mouth continues to be one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing channels. Consumers place the utmost trust in word-of-mouth, with 88% of consumers saying that they have more trust in a brand when it’s recommended by friends or family.
Popular exercise equipment maker Peloton understands the importance of word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, they went as far as to halt nearly all of their marketing efforts to focus solely on word-of-mouth at one point.
Peloton recognized that word-of-mouth was their most cost-effective marketing channel and their most effective one. The Peloton community made this possible. Peloton’s focus from the start has been on building connections between members as well as with their instructors. Their trainers are active across social media and frequently interact with members online.
The ability to access motivational instructors and ride with virtual classmates made Peloton what it is today. The community they’ve created is one of the primary selling points for consumers to spread the word about Peloton to their friends and family. And while the brand is once again investing in brand marketing to overcome recent challenges, the community it has built will help it weather the storm.
4. Make Your Brand a Part of Consumers’ Lifestyles
All of the most successful brands offer more than a simple product or service. Brands that consumers love to rave about create an entire lifestyle around the brand. Their products, missions, and other aspects of their brand mesh perfectly with the values and interests of their consumers.
Lululemon is one of the best examples of a lifestyle brand. They’ve promoted a lifestyle of health and wellness and, in turn, created an entire community of enthusiastic consumers.
Their Sweat Life community encourages consumers to connect through their workouts, sharing posts of their daily exercise. And their stores are becoming experiential meetup hubs, where consumers can bond with each other and the brand through yoga, fitness, and health classes as well as purchase gear.
By creating a lifestyle that draws consumers together, Lululemon has experienced exponential and sustainable growth without a sweat.
5. Deliver Product Innovation and Co-Creation
A community can be used to fuel both product innovation and product co-creation. What better way to provide your consumers with what they want from your brand than consulting with them directly?
LEGO has the right idea with their LEGO Ideas community. Lego Ideas, originally known as LEGO Cuusoo, is a platform that leverages the inherently creative minds of the LEGO-loving community. It’s a space where the LEGO community can come together to submit their own ideas and support ideas from other community members.
LEGO Ideas not only gives the brand a chance to create products that the community wants, but it also makes members and consumers feel valued. Their ideas are being considered, making them feel like a part of the brand itself.
With community, driving product innovation and co-creation is easier than ever—you have a ready-made pool of consumers who love your brand and would love to contribute.
6. Spark Advocacy and UGC
The importance of UGC can’t possibly be overstated. When consumers create shareable pieces of content that get the word out about your product or service, there’s not much more you can ask for.
UGC is at the forefront of the hello friends community, the community created by challenger brand hello Products. They’ve generated thousands of images, recommendations, and testimonials with their community.
That’s because the hello friends community makes it easy to execute advocacy campaigns. One recent campaign to support the new packaging for hello Pure Mint Extra Whitening fluoride toothpaste campaign sparked social sharing by sending 500 targeted community members a full-size tube of the toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a branded sharing guide. hello Products also engaged friends and their followers with helpful tips, engaging discussions, and brand information to drive even more excitement and buzz.
Community members shared their content directly through the platform, making it easy for hello to capture it to repurpose in its own campaigns and glean insights. In just 9 weeks, the campaign generated over 3,000 pieces of UGC, 1.3 million consumer-generated impressions, and 308 retail reviews.
If you want to learn more about hello Products and their strategic use of UGC, our podcast episode with founder Craig Dubitsky is a must listen.
7. Gain Data and Insights
Listening to the wants and needs of your consumer base is at the heart of every successful brand—and that’s what data collection and insights are all about.
A community makes it that much easier to collect data, both first-party data and intentionally shared zero-party data, as well as to act on the insights the data provides.
Rust-Oleum, a leading manufacturer of coatings, is taking full advantage of the power of consumer insights. It harnesses Creators Studio, its community of passionate DIY enthusiasts, to gather intelligence on its audience.
Rust-Oleum can ask questions directly to their consumers to gauge trends and inform innovation decisions. Regular innovation challenges allow members to submit their ideas, and vote and comment on other submissions, providing visibility into what interests and excites its top consumers. The brand also hosts weekly “Ask the Expert” sessions where Rust-Oleum associates answer questions as well as engage in general chats where they share tips and recommendations, boosting the brand’s customer experience (CX).
These valuable insights allow Rust-Oleum to continue to innovate and meet the needs of its passionate consumers.
8. Power Your Direct-to-Consumer and Ecommerce Efforts
Community marketing ideas can work in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) and e-commerce spaces.
Just look at beauty brand Glossier. Started as a beauty and lifestyle blog, the community built by the brand owner Emily Weiss grew from showcasing beauty routines to developing a product line: Glossier.
Glossier had a community before their product line even existed!
On the Glossier blog, Emily Weiss defines the company as “a DTC beauty company that leverages content and community to power a superior shopping experience.” Glossier has harnessed the followers of its blog and Instagram to drive new consumer acquisition and product innovation, staying close to its consumers to deliver exactly what they want. With a valuation of over $1 billion today, it’s hard to deny the success of Emily’s efforts.
All of this shows how important community is to industries across the board—including those in the DTC and e-commerce space.
9. Personalize Your Consumer Engagement
Consumers crave a personalized experience. Whether it’s the shopping experience or post-purchase emails, personalization helps project your brand in a positive light.
A community can be used to help create personalized engagement with your audience, and Sir Kensington’s is a fantastic example of this.
Sir Kensington’s delivers personalized brand experiences with Taste Buds, their online brand community.
“At the beginning of our journey with Vesta we analyzed the (Welcome Survey) data and we created these four different segments of our audience. They range from people who are interested in eating food for pleasure versus those that are more diet focused. And people who are more adventurous to those that prefer more mild flavors. And this has helped us personalize the experiences and the messages that we’re putting out there based on which segment each of our eaters fall into.” – Amanda Triglia, Associate Brand Manager, Sir Kensington’s
Using their community, Sir Kensington’s can personalize the way consumers interact with the brand. In addition to its broader audience segmentation, the community continuously gathers data on community members as they interact and participate, creating rich progressive profiles that can be used to hyper-target offers and content. From food preferences and cooking habits to nutrition and special diets, Sir Kensington’s is able to customize its communications and brand experience in ways that are meaningful and build connections with its consumers.
In the end, it’s all about creating value for consumers with personalized engagements—and that’s exactly what Sir Kensington’s can do through their Taste Buds community.
10. Elevate Connections With Gamification
Gamification, which adds the typical elements of game play, like points and competitions, to a non-typical purpose, like encouraging engagement with a product or service, is a tried and true way to engage and connect with your consumers. Not only is it entertaining but by harnessing people’s intrinsic motivators like mastery and competitiveness, it can deliver lasting engagement and connection.
Look at the Nike Run Club. Understanding that consistency in training is often hampered by a lack of motivation, the Nike Run Club helps motivate users by encouraging them to smash their fitness goals, whether it’s through guided running workouts or custom coaching plans.
Nike uses gamification by incorporating organized challenges with a small sense of urgency. When these challenges are tackled, users are presented with achievements that can be shared with friends for a bit of humble bragging.
This gamified approach to the community helps Nike hook people and engage with them in meaningful ways.
11. Support New Product Launches
One of the most common and effective community ideas is supporting new product launches. A community can be used to great effect when brands want to boost awareness surrounding a new product launch.
BiPro understood the importance of driving new product awareness. They started by mobilizing 500+ segmented, health-conscious consumers looking to add natural protein to their diet. They targeted these consumers specifically to share authentic word-of-mouth about BiPro’s new product line. The launch campaign sparked thousands of posts, reviews, photos, and comments across key online channels, driving BiPro’s new product awareness among target consumers.
Their campaign also created “pre-seeded” reviews, meaning that the product launched with reviews already available to provide additional validation.
The results? A 21% increase in share of voice, 2,400+ pieces of UGC, and a 61% likelihood to purchase among a peer influencer group.
12. Amplify Your Shopper Marketing
Community can be used as a driver for shopper marketing campaigns. To demonstrate this, let’s look at Veggies Made Great and their community.
Veggies Made Great invited its members, known as “Veg Heads” to “plant” discount coupons on product boxes in stores nationwide, and then spread the word on social media by sharing pictures of their in-store actions. The social sharing fostered a “treasure hunt mentality,” engaging friends and followers of community members to seek out and use the product coupons to sample the product. With minimal lead time and creative assets, Veggie Made Great was able to harness its digital relationships into offline actions with a major impact at the retail level.
The mission led to 4,460 coupons planted, a social reach of over 92,000 people, and a coupon redemption rate 30% higher than the industry average.
13. Build Awareness of Your Brand Purpose
Brand purpose has become an important part of consumers’ decision-making process. And it’s not just Millennials and Gen Z: 75% of consumers worldwide expect brands to contribute to their well-being and quality of life. With community, brands have the opportunity to not just spread awareness of their efforts but to engage their die-hard fans to join them in their fight.
Using their Generation Good community, Seventh Generation mobilized over 600,000 members to support legislation for various causes, including climate justice, menstrual equality, and indoor air quality, all while growing a connection to the brand. They hosted discussions and shared information within the community about the causes close to Seventh Generation.
They even held voter sweepstakes—all community members registered to vote in the United States by the promotion period were eligible to enter the sweepstakes to win Seventh Generation laundry detergent.
14. Create a Learning Community
An online community is the ultimate setup for helping and supporting others. By gathering a group of people willing to learn, and those willing to teach, you end up with a supportive community that provides a ton of value.
Duolingo takes the concept of “learning community” to the next level. In fact, the Duolingo Community grew to the point where it created valuable content alongside the Duolingo content team. This wasn’t an overnight success, either. The Duolingo Community started small before growing to over 50 million language learners. Today members are even developing their own courses for other members to take advantage of and learn new languages.
As Duolingo learned, harnessing the power of community can create massive impact for your brand.
Questions About Community Ideas?
With years of experience in community marketing, the Vesta team knows all about the community powered marketing techniques that you can use to take your brand to the next level. Reach out to us. We can help.
Interested in More?
Check out our eBook on creating a winning brand community strategy in just four steps.