We know that you, like every marketer, would love to strengthen your brand.
From increasing brand awareness to building a group of die-hard raving fans of your product or service, building your brand is a crucial component of an effective marketing strategy.
The question is, how do you increase brand awareness and engage your most loyal customers?
Enter online brand communities.
Before we talk about how online brand communities can help promote your brand organically and efficiently, let’s define what an online brand community is.
What Are Online Brand Communities?
Simply put, an online brand community is an online destination where people can come together with a shared interest in a product or service. This is a space connected to your website where your consumers can join and interact with both your brand and other like-minded people. Beyond that, an online brand community is also about your audience sharing the lifestyle and purpose of your brand.
However, we’re not just talking about people who have previously purchased a product or service from you.
Your online brand community members typically have an emotional connection to your brand in one way or another. Whether it’s because they believe in your overall mission, they’re interested in the lifestyle or have been curious about your brand from recommendations, it’s about more than just the purchase.
Having this type of environment fostered by your brand helps create real engagement with your community members. And transforms them into the true ambassadors of your brand.
Why Use Online Brand Communities?
What is it that makes an Online Community Platform such a crucial part of your marketing strategy and building your brand?
It’s no surprise that we know a ton of reasons why online brand communities should be a part of your brand strategy moving forward. Let us share just a few.
Increasing brand awareness and reach
Having a dedicated space to engage with your consumers and have them interact with each other helps to create authentic, shareable content. The kind of content that can greatly increase brand awareness and extend brand reach.
Online brand communities generate ongoing product or service reviews, create authentic user-generated content, and drive traffic and conversion to brand initiatives. This social-proof-driven strategy sparks brand advocacy and, through word-of-mouth promotion, can help attract new community members.
Aside from your current loyal following, online brand communities also allow you to introduce your brand to those who might not be consumers yet. They give you a platform to educate the public about your brand and convert them into consumers in the future through trusted recommendations – 92% of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of messaging.
Access and ownership of first-party data
By engaging with your online brand community members, you can collect valuable zero-party data and first-party data which can be used to deliver captivating and personalized experiences for your customers. It’s the richness of these interactions, which provide not just convenience but the sense of being known and valued by a brand, that builds lasting consumer loyalty.
Compared to other marketing channels, online brand communities provide a highly scalable method of promoting your brand, especially for resource-strapped teams. And it can help optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of your other marketing tools by allowing you to connect and operate your consumer acquisition, retention, and brand loyalty efforts in one streamlined and holistic destination.
Online brand communities can also be a goldmine for capturing valuable insights from consumers to help you keep up with trends and collect feedback about your industry, product, or service.
Online Brand Community Elements and Features
Engagement is a cornerstone of an online brand community setup, and there are many different interactive elements you can use to drum up participation from your community members including polls, discussions, or offers.
“If most online brand communities provide interactive features, what makes Vesta any different?”
While it’s true that many brand community platforms offer interactive elements, Vesta takes it further, with over 30 activations including promotional offers, events, in-store visits, content, and much more:
- Surveys & polls
- Ratings & reviews
- Discussion boards
- Advocacy campaigns
Vesta also has a progressive profile process that continually gathers consumer data to deliver a highly personalized community experience to every member.
“But I Already Have Communities on Social Media Platforms!”
Social media and brand community marketing are not one and the same. Knowing what brand communities are and how they can help with your brand strategy is important.
It’s also important to understand what you shouldn’t consider a brand community.
Specifically, we’re talking about third-party-owned forums with a loose connection to your brand, such as a Facebook group.
Now, we’re not saying that having a Facebook group for your brand is a bad thing. In fact, social media groups can work well in tandem with an online brand community.
However, it’s important to understand some of the main differences between the two.
Not your branding
While a Facebook group allows you to use banner photos and a profile picture for your branding, at the end of the day, it’s still Facebook. Their branding is everywhere in sight, from their logo to their color scheme.
An online brand community allows you to create a space you own that truly and authentically reflects your brand. With Vesta’s software, you’ll have access to a much more customizable platform.
The data isn’t yours
Third-party forums and groups own the data that you collect through them, and they will often require advertising spend to distribute your posts. Conversely, with an online brand community such as Vesta, the data is yours to keep and use for personalization, media optimization, and ongoing marketing.
You don’t make the rules
Since you don’t own the space that you use with a third-party-owned space, you and your consumers are subject to their rules. They’re in control of what you and your community can do (or not do).
Having your own online branded community means you won’t be dictated to by a third party. You can control your own messaging and you won’t need to worry about any negativity surrounding the platform.
Online Brand Communities Are a Staple For Any Brand Strategy
When it comes down to it, we can’t overstate the importance of online brand communities.
By engaging with your biggest brand fans on a far more personal level and generating owned zero-party data and first-party data, you can unlock the sales, advocacy, and insights potential of your audience and easily scale your marketing efforts to deliver powerful results.
Having a Facebook group for your brand is a great start. However, when you’re ready to graduate to a truly personalized and engaging experience, a standalone online brand community is unmatched.
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!
Interested in more?
Check out our Community Marketing 101 eBook and discover how to harness the power of online brand communities to take your marketing strategy to the next level.