In an age of social distancing, how do you stop consumers from distancing from your brand? After all, as the business world continues to evolve in these unprecedented times, so too do the desires and expectations of your audience. The answer? Brand community.
But in times of great instability and uncertainty, knowing how to build a brand community effectively is far easier said than done. Luckily for you, we’re here to help.
Your team should be the embodiment of your brand identity – that’s brand marketing 101. You can’t expect your customers to be brand ambassadors if you’re not starting from within.
With many businesses operating remotely in light of the ongoing pandemic, though, this poses a new challenge. Without the buzz of a shared workspace, it can be easy for team members to lose sight of your core values and brand identity, so look to maintain a team mentality as much as possible if and when your employees are working from home.
Whether it’s regular check-ins over video chat or a team training exercise to refresh employees on what you’re all about, find the method that works best for your team and stick to it.
Promote user-generated content
Across many industries, resources are short right now. Of course, this often has a knock-on effect on many different aspects of your business, and your brand community is no exception.
Whether you’ve been forced to cut back on your content creation or delay your customer response time, this won’t go unnoticed by your audience and may lead to them turning their back on your brand. Consumers want reassurance and stability right now – don’t give them the opposite.
But how do you avoid this if resources are thin? User-generated content! From reposting customer product pictures on your Instagram story to encouraging them to partake in your own viral trend, adapt your user-generated content strategy to best suit the habits of your audience.
Doing so presents two great advantages. Firstly, it fixes your brand firmly in the minds of your customers by ensuring your digital presence hasn’t slipped – win. Secondly, it helps you build a brand community through authenticity and transparency – even bigger win. When utilised correctly, user-generated content removes the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality of brand vs consumer, instead projecting a collective sense of, well, community.
Evaluate your brand’s ethics
Perhaps the most notable shift in consumer expectations throughout the pandemic so far is an increased focus on social responsibility. With one study revealing that 53% of consumers believe ‘purpose-driven’ brands have fared better throughout COVID-19, and a further 81% stating that a brand’s social responsibility can make or break their decision to purchase, the impact this has on your brand image really speaks for itself.
What does this mean for your brand community? Well, you should be looking to align your brand’s ethical and moral standpoints with those of your audience. Ensure all marketing strategies are in good taste, understanding the difference between an authentic show of support and hijacking a social cause for your own gain.
Of course, the old saying still rings true here: actions speak louder than words. So, whether you’re taking steps to become more sustainable or making donations to ethical movements, practise what you preach to show your community that you’re genuinely invested in the social responsibility of your brand.
For a prime example of how to do this successfully, look no further than Ben & Jerry’s (is anyone else really craving a tub of Cookie Dough right now?!).
Adapt your social presence
As we’ve already mentioned, customer habits have changed drastically over the past few months – is your social presence reflecting this?
Social media is all about being in the here and now, and, if you’re not adapting your strategy in line with evolving audience demands, you’re likely being left behind. What worked before is unlikely to work now, so delve deeper into how your audience has changed and adapt your social plans accordingly.
Whether it’s a shift in focus from sales to brand exposure or a shift in brand voice to one that’s more nurturing and considerate, the key is to remain relevant and sensitive to your audience in these ever-changing times. Doing so will help build your brand community by keeping your brand relatable and well-informed.
Rejig your content plan
Similarly, if you’re one for mapping out your content plans months in advance, it’s likely you’ll need to re-evaluate this, too.
Remember, good content is all about providing the user with the most value – and to do this effectively, you need to understand (and offer a solution to) common user problems. With so much having changed over the past few months, it’s likely your customers are facing new problems, many unique to this unparalleled period in time.
Once again championing relevancy and sensitivity, identify these audience problems and look to address them with your content. Whether it’s a complete overhaul of your blog content topics or subtler changes like new call-to-action (CTA) destinations, strengthen your brand community by keeping your audience at the heart of all of your decisions.
Encourage and embrace feedback
Labelled the ‘new norm’, the social and economic upheaval of recent months is a new world for us all. With this in mind, it’s only natural that you’re not going to get everything right the first time around.
Of course, what you’re doing right and what you’re getting wrong are ultimately dictated by your audience, so why not encourage and embrace feedback to ensure you’re building your brand community in the most strategic and effective way possible?
To do this, you can utilise our community engagement platform to interact with your audience. From polls to questionnaires, prompt customers to give you honest and constructive feedback that you can use to not only create more targeted strategies, but also make your customers feel heard and valued.
Understanding how to build a brand community in these times is no easy feat, but, by actioning our tips above, you’ll be well on your way – it’s all about adapting these techniques to suit the unique needs of your audience.
Need a helping hand getting started? We can help! Get in touch with us today to book your free online demo of our community engagement platform, and begin building a stronger brand community today.