Hands up anyone who has joined a Facebook group, online course, discord, or similar in the pursuit of something important to you? How many of you are in fan groups on social media, or follow the hashtags of your favourite brands, singers, actors and artists? Personally, I’m a die-hard Swiftie, my socials are flooded with Taylor-related content. You can add to that the Bookstagram and Booktok communities, which I’m an active member of, my membership of Denise Duffield Thomas’ Money Bootcamp (with it’s Facebook group and regular live calls), and several authors I follow who are instant buys for me when they drop a new book. All of these things enrich my life, make me happy, give me support, or entertain me. And each and every one is a business community (in one form or another).
I buy stuff from all of them. I’m a repeat customer for each and every brand. From owning every TayTay album, to having endless shelves of books (many bought directly from recs on TikTok or Instagram), to books and courses I’ve purchased from Denise, and the slew of preorders I have on Amazon for forthcoming releases from my favourite authors. Business communities many people buy shit. A strong business community can lead to increased customer loyalty, better feedback loops, and a powerful advocate base. Building a community around your business is a game-changer, so today we’re digging into strategies for creating one, and delve into the transformative impact it can have on your business.
Understanding the Power of Community
Imagine walking into a space where the walls echo your thoughts, where every conversation feels like it’s been curated just for you. This isn’t a figment of imagination but the essence of what a thriving business community feels like. It’s a space where your passion for Taylor Swift’s discography, your insatiable appetite for new book recs, or your commitment to personal growth through learning from a professional you respect finds not just acceptance but enthusiastic resonance.
In an era (see what I did there?) where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and impersonal advertising, the craving for genuine connection and shared experiences has never been more pronounced. A business community leverages this craving to create a powerful bond between a brand and its consumers. It transforms passive buyers into active participants in a brand’s narrative. Here’s how they do it:
Shared Passions Are Glue: At the heart of every community lies a shared passion. Whether it’s discussing the latest Easter Egg in a Taylor Swift album and decoding her lyrics, or a hotly debated book ending on Bookstagram (I’m looking at you, Iron Flame), or actionable financial advice from a trusted coach, these shared interests create a strong, almost unbreakable bond. And not just to the brand, business, or personality at the centre, to the community as a whole. Friendships are forged, fans and community members follow each other as much as they do the thing that brought them together. They create sub-communities of their own. They learn from each other, support each other, inspire each other, and keep each other informed on the object of their shared passion and related topics. Years ago I was a member of a HarperCollins writing forum called Authonomy, which no longer exists, yet some of my closest friends to this day are writers I met on that forum. I’ve bought their books, they’ve bought mine. We’ve attended each others’ book signings and events. We regularly chat on social media, and if we find ourselves in the geographical vicinity of one another, we meet up. One of them is also a dog breeder. I got my mum a puppy from one of his litters.
A Two-Way Street Of Value: Unlike traditional consumer-business relationships, communities offer a reciprocal value exchange. Members not only invest their money but also contribute content, feedback, and support. In return, they gain not just products or services but a sense of belonging, identity, and mutual support. They gain confidence and validation from the community that is often lacking in other areas of their lives because their friends and family do not share the interest, do the hobby, work in the industry, or like the artist.
An Amplifier For Loyalty And Advocacy: Members of a business community aren’t just loyal customers; they are brand advocates. Their personal stories, recommendations, and public endorsements act as powerful, organic marketing tools. They amplify a brand’s reach far beyond what conventional advertising can achieve. I did a haul video when I bought some new clothes from a favourite brand a while back. They reshared it on their own social media and it was one of their highest viewed videos on Instagram last year.
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A Source Of Invaluable Insights: There’s no focus group more honest or insightful than your community. They’re the first to tell you what’s working, what’s not, and what they desperately need. This feedback loop is gold for any business looking to innovate or refine its offerings. There’s a reason authors enlist the help of their top fans as beta readers, and Taylor Swift herself hosts listening parties for her fans ahead of releasing an album to gauge reactions. This kind of high-contact interaction between the brand (or person at its heart) and loyal fans not only informs your journey and helps you improve, it solidifies your community and encourages even greater loyalty.
The Unique Advantage
Consider the diversity of communities you’re part of – from Swifties to Bookstagrammers to followers of financial empowerment coaches. Each of these communities not only fuels your passions but also subtly influences your purchasing decisions. They’ve turned you into a repeat customer, not through hard-sell tactics but through genuine engagement and shared excitement.
This is the unique advantage of a business community. It’s not just about creating a customer base but about fostering a space where like-minded individuals can gather, share, and grow together. It’s about moving beyond transactions to create meaningful interactions, where every member feels valued and heard.
As we continue to navigate the complexities of building such a community, it’s essential to remember that the foundation of any successful community is authenticity. In a world where consumers are increasingly sceptical of marketing, genuine passion, and shared values shine the brightest. This understanding is not just the starting point but the guiding light for building a business community that not only survives but thrives, transforming your brand into a living, breathing entity in the hearts and minds of its members.
The Benefits of Building a Business Community
- Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Community members feel a stronger connection to your brand, leading to higher retention rates.
- Valuable Feedback and Insights: Direct communication with your community allows for real-time feedback and insights, helping you to improve your products or services.
- Increased Brand Advocacy: A passionate community can serve as a powerful marketing force, advocating for your brand and attracting new customers.
- Support Network: Both for you and community members, offering a space for advice, feedback, and shared experiences.
How to Build a Business Community: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Define Your Purpose and Values
Your community should be built on a solid foundation of your brand’s purpose and values. This clarity attracts individuals who share those values and fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty. Clearly articulate what your brand stands for and what it seeks to achieve with the community.
Step 2: Identify Your Target Community
Understanding who your community is, is as critical as defining your purpose. Who are your current customers, and who do you wish to attract? What are their interests, needs, and behaviour patterns? A deep understanding of your audience will guide your community-building strategies.
Step 3: Choose the Right Platform
Select a platform that aligns with your community’s preferences and behaviours. Whether it’s a social media platform, a dedicated forum on your website, or a third-party community platform, ensure it supports easy interaction and engagement.
Step 4: Foster Engagement and Participation
Engagement is the lifeblood of any community. Create and curate content that resonates with your community’s interests and encourages interaction. Organise events, challenges, and discussions that promote participation and foster a sense of belonging.
Step 5: Recognize and Reward Active Members
Acknowledgment and rewards can significantly boost member engagement and loyalty. Implement a system to recognize and reward your most active or contributing members, whether through exclusive deals, early access to new products, or public acknowledgment.
Step 6: Provide Value Beyond Products or Services
Your community should offer value beyond just selling products or services. Provide educational content, workshops, expert sessions, or networking opportunities that enrich your members’ professional or personal lives.
Step 7: Encourage Peer-to-Peer Interactions
While your brand might initiate the community, its long-term success depends on member-to-member interactions. Encourage these peer-to-peer relationships through discussion prompts, member spotlights, or setting up sub-groups for specific interests.
Step 8: Listen and Adapt
A community is a living entity that evolves. Listen to the feedback, monitor engagement levels, and be willing to adapt your strategies to meet the changing needs and interests of your community.
The Transformative Impact of a Business Community
A well-cultivated business community can transform your brand in several ways:
- Increased Customer Retention: A sense of belonging can turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers.
- Improved Product Development: Direct access to customer feedback can lead to better product decisions and innovations.
- Heightened Brand Loyalty: Emotional connections with the community translate into stronger brand loyalty.
- Organic Growth: Word-of-mouth from community members can significantly lower customer acquisition costs and fuel organic growth.
Building Your Business Community
Building a business community is no small feat. It requires commitment, strategy, and a genuine desire to connect with your audience on a deeper level. However, the benefits of fostering a strong community far outweigh the challenges. It’s about creating a space where your brand and its customers can grow together, bound by shared values and mutual respect.
The importance of community in business is only going to continue to grow. In an era where consumers crave authenticity and connection, building a community isn’t just a strategy; it’s a fundamental shift in how businesses operate and engage with their customers. For those ready to embark on this journey, the rewards are not just in increased sales but in building a brand that stands the test of time, nurtured by a community of loyal advocates.
If you’re looking for a kickstart to the process, check out my book, Divine Blogging, which teaches you how to craft content tailored to the psychological makeup of your ideal audience so you organically attract a business community of exactly the right people. Download the first chapter for free, just signup below…