As a modern marketer up to date with the latest trends in strengthening your brand, you’ve probably heard about online brand communities. A destination where consumers can come together with a shared interest in a brand, whether it’s an interest in products and services or the brand’s overall mission.
But how do you know when you’re ready for your own brand community?
You already have a wide range of tools at your disposal for all types of marketing initiatives. So how can a community help enhance your overall marketing efforts?
Don’t worry. Vesta is here to help you work through all your questions.
Assessing If You’re Ready for an Online Brand Community
To help you understand if you’re ready for an online brand community, we’ve created a community readiness checklist. Asking yourself these nine questions can help you assess where your brand currently stands in regards to consumer acquisition, retention, loyalty, data ownership, and insights, and tell you if an online brand community is right for you.
1. Are You Out Growing Third-party Owned Forums?
We understand that almost every brand has a social media page. After all, Facebook groups and Instagram profiles can be useful in word-of-mouth marketing.
But is your brand outgrowing these third-party-owned forums and groups?
Third-party groups and forums don’t give you the benefit of owning the first-party data you collect. Because of this, distributing your valuable content will require advertising spend.
With a Vesta online brand community, you own the data. You can use it in any of your ongoing marketing efforts, for personalization, or media optimization.
Another problem with certain third-party-owned platforms is an overall negative outlook on the platform as a whole. Take Facebook, for example. The platform is often viewed negatively, with a large number of brands taking their communities elsewhere. Unfortunately, this means that your brand could be subject to harm simply by using Facebook as your primary community platform.
Starting your own online community allows you to avoid this negativity and cultivate a community on your terms.
2. Do You Have an Audience of Consumers Passionate About Your Brand, But You Can’t Seem to Build a Relationship with Them?
You’ve put in the work to cultivate an audience that loves your brand, your mission, and the lifestyle surrounding your brand.
An online brand community can help bring that audience together and foster brand advocacy.
By providing your audience with a welcoming home, they can help drive word-of-mouth advocacy and bring new consumers to your brand and your community. If your audience is already developed, it’s time you think about providing them with a welcoming online brand community home.
3. When Consumers Share about Your Brand, Are You Able to Mobilize, Scale, and Measure It Easily?
Nothing beats the thrill of seeing consumers talking about your brand in a positive light or giving passionate testimonials about their experience.
It’s essential to harness this power in a repeatable and predictable way. Far too many brands run their word-of-mouth strategy through confusing and disjointed efforts, often ruled by excel spreadsheets or other ad hoc management systems.
With a Vesta community, you’re able to organize, run, and measure word-of-mouth campaigns from one place. This efficiency can help you remove entire processes and programs from your marketing stack and streamline your marketing efforts.
4. Are You Invested in Ecommerce on Your Brand Website or Other Retail Channels, but Struggle with Driving Authentic and Recent Reviews?
We know that one of your main goals is to increase conversions that drive sales.
An online brand community will play a significant role in the purchase cycle.
A community can help you seed customer reviews on product pages. As a strong form of social proof, these reviews help fuel new sales and bring brand new customers to the table.
With your community, you can foster emotional relationships with your consumers in between purchases. These strong connections build true brand loyalty that keeps customers coming back.
Communities also help consumers discover new products and services. Instead of constantly trying to get your advertising message to be seen, an online brand community gives you an organic way to promote your new products or services to an audience already interested in your brand.
5. Are You Having Difficulty with Accessing Actionable Data And Consumer Feedback?
With an online brand community powered by Vesta, it’s never been easier to engage with your consumers and act on their feedback.
Past conventional methods of gathering data are disappearing quickly, from cookies going away to Apple’s newer iOS privacy updates. This makes it more important than ever to establish a reliable channel to generate and own your data.
With a Vesta community, it’s easy to get feedback on how a product or service is performing. You can create polls to gauge interest in particular topics. You can even start discussions on new product ideas, as Sir Kensington’s did with their “Taste Buds” community.
Starting a brand-owned community gives you the perfect opportunity to act quickly and with purpose on consumer feedback.
6. Do You Want Emotional Loyalty That Lasts Beyond a Transaction?
With online brand communities, the purchase isn’t the last step in the consumer journey. Beyond simple transactions, your community encourages loyal members to drive word-of-mouth promotion and build an active community of consumers who are all about your brand and your mission.
For example, Seventh Generation initially thought that their “Generation Good” community members were their most loyal brand users. But it turned out that 60% hadn’t tried their brand before joining; they were looking for a community of people to connect with on the lifestyle. By fostering connections, educating, and empowering members to take action on issues of importance to them, they’ve built a meaningful and lasting relationship with hundreds of thousands of their consumers.
Achieving that kind of authentic emotional loyalty at scale requires an online brand community.
7. Do You Have a Unique Value Proposition in the Marketplace but You Still Aren’t Standing Out?
Nearly every company has a social media page for its brand. It’s a common channel for growing an audience and promoting products or services. This also means that it can be tough to stand out even with a great unique value proposition.
With an online brand community, you can create a vibrant online space unique to your brand.
Vesta communities can be customized to match your brand, from logos and color schemes to on-brand language throughout the pages of your community. And Vesta’s Client Success team will develop a strategic calendar of highly targeted and tailored interactive elements, activities, and lively discussions to engage your audience.
8. Do You Have a Powerful Brand Purpose That You Want to Bring “To Life”?
When you develop a strong brand mission, be it enacting environmental change, bringing awareness to certain issues, supporting charitable efforts, or anything in between, sharing that mission with the world is critical.
The problem is that the channels you usually have to share this on are limited. Brands are often forced to convey their message using advertising copy, which can feel unnatural and forced. Advertising is also less trusted by consumers.
An online brand community provides a more organic way to bring your brand mission to life using real stories from real people. These stories resonate with an audience far beyond promotional messaging.
If you want an organic method of getting your message out to the world and truly bringing it to life, an online brand community is what you need.
9. Do You Have a Strong Content Marketing Strategy and Want to Amplify Your Efforts?
An online brand community can help scale your efforts to a new level for brands focused on content marketing.
As your community members interact through discussions and other elements, they create authentic and shareable content. All of this user-generated content helps drive more traffic, increases brand awareness and reach, and can help bring new consumers into the community.
User-generated content is also a great way to use social proof to your advantage. Creating your own content about your products and services is important, but your audience is far more likely to trust online content from their family and friends above anything else.
If you’re looking to take your content marketing strategy to the next level, look no further than an online brand community.
So… Are You Ready for Your Own Vesta Community?
Running through our checklist can be helpful in thinking about the ways an online brand community could help your brand.
Let’s be honest, though. Nearly every brand can benefit from a Vesta community. From streamlining brand advocacy through social proof and word-of-mouth promotion to acquiring new consumers and building lasting emotional loyalty, there’s something for every marketer to take advantage of with a Vesta community.
Learn how to get started with our guide to building online communities. Your audience is waiting.
Interested in more?
Discover some of the common misconceptions about brand-owned communities with our eBook.