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In today’s era of web transparency, consumers have more access to the facts and opinions of companies. From social media channels to the realm of e-commerce, there is a plethora of information to digest – and consumers make informed decisions based on this data.
The question is, how should business owners react to it? More importantly, how do they act on this behavior to impress consumers and gain competitive advantage? There is no doubt that there is an opportunity to engage with consumers who are actively searching for your brand. But what’s the most effective way to go without looking sticky or pushy? It’s all about commitment. Engaging with consumers transparently is key to elevating your business and building trust with people who believe in your brand and purpose.
But many businesses aren’t confident about building an online community for their brand. It seems tedious to some, and others feel they just don’t have time to manage another platform. But communities can build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty. Below, I will discuss the four main benefits of creating a community:
Related: How to Create Your Own Online Community
1. Increases your brand awareness
We all understand the power of word of mouth. It is the oldest form of marketing; centuries later, it’s still just as impactful. Semrush shared that 64% of marketers agreed that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
It’s clear that people are looking to friends and family for business recommendations. A study by Annex Cloud showed that 91% of millennials said they would consider buying a product if a friend recommended it. It is an important part of a business and should be added to your business strategy.
People who speak positively about your business are essentially unofficial brand ambassadors. Often, brands invest time and effort in rewarding these ambassadors in order to retain them. It may seem time-consuming, but consumers appreciate being rewarded and brands see the value in this investment.
2. Fosters Dynamic Relationships
One of the most valuable things communities allow businesses to do is listen to their customers. Communities make it easy to grow, but they’re also a great source of feedback for businesses — and honest feedback.
Customers are quite transparent about their experiences within communities. They may not be as upfront and honest on social platforms. Some companies see this as intimidating, but others embrace it. My minds? Do the latter. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is valuable to an organization.
If people are consistently giving you bad reviews about a specific product, your shipping method, or your e-commerce site, chances are there’s a void that needs to be filled. Reviews speak volumes and customers are the ones who go through the entire user journey from start to finish. Ninety-seven percent of online consumers read reviews before making a purchase. Buyers have information and experience that you need – use it wisely.
Related: 5 Ways to Connect with Your Online Community
3. Creates a higher level of customer support
Communities create a platform for people to share their experiences, but shoppers also use communities to ask for help. Customer support is a major part of running a business, and influential communities help advise members.
Support-related conversations also provide a sense of camaraderie and encourage other members to share, learn, and engage more often. Fostering discussion is the biggest asset of community-owned businesses. This gives shoppers a more poignant experience than watching an explainer video or educational blog post alone.
It’s because humans connect with humans. Bryan Kramer, creator of There is no B2B or B2c: it’s human to human #H2h, refers to H2H as “the delicious side of humanity” which speaks of understanding, empathy and forgiveness. He shares that communication should be “authentic and simple”, and that people should respect and understand that we are all multi-dimensional humans. Humans make mistakes, are curious to know more, and yearn for connection with others.
It’s a perfect connection to communities – people get the chance to connect and help each other. It’s customer support, engagement and appreciation all rolled into one.
4. Cultivates brand loyalty
When community members feel heard, valued, and know they are part of a society that understands them, they tend to stick around. Brands are beginning to see the role their community plays in their level of success, especially in a digitally driven world.
Let’s analyze it from this angle: there are only twenty-four hours in a day. Factor in sleep, work, and chores, and the balance of hours is minimal. If an individual chooses to use some of that time to engage with your community, you are privileged. They are exposed to hundreds of other websites, communities and social channels, but they choose yours.
The reality is that the more time a buyer invests in your community, product, or service, the more likely they are to respect and value it. For companies to be effective, they need to join the conversation and start rewarding these people. Communities do not just sell a product to consumers; they act as a pillar of support and provide value to customers.
Related: How Can Virtual Communities Create Business Value?
Building a community can be a huge game-changer for your business – for the better. Getting like-minded people to connect, interact, advise and advocate on your platform keeps your business relevant. It also helps your business connect with individuals on a personal and closer level than on social media.
Communities can build brand awareness and provide a real competitive advantage if done right. It’s time to start. Competition waits for no one, and if you’re first in the market with a community, chances are you’ll attract many creative and passionate members who believe in the same values as you. Conversations are an integral part of our lives. It’s time to start celebrating them.