Ask any small business owners, entrepreneurs, or marketers and they will all tell you that word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is extremely powerful and important to business growth. But it’s not something that business owners or marketers can necessarily control or manage, but they can put processes or steps in place to encourage WOM, and one of those is focusing on building a community to rally around your brand or product. Utilizing social media and digital channels makes it easier than ever to harness WOMM and build a strong community. You have access to a wider audience, more customer data, and means of communicating with your customers than ever before. The key is developing a strategy that is sustainable, scalable, and aligned to your marketing and business objectives.
Depending on your brand, product, or service, building a strong online community can be an extremely effective way to communicate with your customers, find new leads, and ultimately convert more users into customers. Here’s a few tips for how to build a strong and loyal brand community that converts.
Too often, marketers and business owners can get caught up in trying to increase their followers, likes, impressions, etc. They’re all important metrics for evaluating success of your social media and digital marketing tactics, but building a community needs to go beyond the numbers game. It’s important to continue to gain new followers and build your audience, but you need to connect with them and not just collect them. Give them a reason to talk to you or about your brand by encouraging engagement, user-generated content, and conversation.
So if you’re thinking to yourself that connecting with your audience and building this community sounds great, but are not sure where to start, providing incentives to purchase and share about your brand or product is a great place. It’s not necessarily about offering discounts to your audience, but additional incentives like sharing and engaging with their content might be enough. Giving your new and current customers a reason to share and engage through hashtags, social media challenges, or other methods can be effective as well. Dedicating a page on your website to sharing user-generated content, running giveaways for those who share content, or sharing the content (with permission) on your social media are a few ideas.
For the customers who have already purchased and have shared about their experience, finding ways to reward them will keep them satisfied and coming back for repeat purchase. Engaging with or sharing their content (with permission) on your social media can be an effective way to do so. Let your customers know you appreciate their purchase and their WOM by commenting, sending them a direct message, and providing them with a discount code or free shipping option on a future purchase are a few ideas. By continued interaction and connection, if you look to create a brand ambassador or influencer marketing program in the future, you have a good idea of users who might be interested and great candidates for it.
Social media is meant to be social and fun. Connecting with your audience is key to building a strong brand community and it needs to be an ongoing process. Depending on your product or service, the brands who win at social media marketing and building a strong brand community online have a consistent, strategic, and effective plan in place. They engage with their audience, are transparent and responsive to customers who maybe didn’t have a positive experience with their brand, and celebrate with those customers who do!
We all know the importance of WOMM and building a strong community is an incredibly effective method for encouraging that conversation between your existing customers and potential customers. We know that consumers trust the recommendations and experiences of their social circle and influencers they resonate with on social media. Encouraging your customers to share and converse about your brand within your and their community is a great way to put your brand top of mind for potential customers.