For a lot of brands, the idea of “community” is a buzzword at best and an afterthought at worst. Their check-the-box approach to creating a vital and valuable community of customers was unlikely to succeed even under the best of circumstances. Yet after a few short weeks or months, to the surprise of no one, management announces that the community didn’t live up to expectations and they slash its budget.
Most community-building failures can be traced back to one or more of five common mistakes that companies make that doom their efforts to the dustbin of failed initiatives. To prevent that type of systemic failure when you build your community, we’ve compiled a short list of ways you can succeed and foster not just brand love, but brand evangelism, too.
Mistake #1: Not having a community in the first place.
Some companies think they don’t need a community, and many of them may be right. Not every company wants a group of unpaid enthusiasts to happily and widely promote their brand and products for free. What would be the point of that? Building customer trust? Better word of mouth? Increased customer spending? Who needs all that?
Yet for brands that do need a community, remember — customers who will evangelize your brand want more than just a static online forum or email contact form—they want a place to share their passion for your brand. And only a social community offers that. Brands that don’t provide a place for easy interaction with customers will find them moving to competitors who do.
Mistake #2: Building a community on someone else’s network.
We’ve discussed why you shouldn’t build your brand on someone else’s social network in an earlier post, but its central thought bears repeating: social community is something companies have to provide for themselves.
The well-known social networks often change their algorithms to suit their own purposes, not yours or your customers. And that ability to change the playing field without any warning means that they’re deciding which of your messages, if any, are being seen by your customers, and that lack of control is bad for any brand.
A brand-owned social community, on the other hand, provides an ideal vehicle for messaging your most engaged and fervent fans without worrying if they saw it or not. Your own social community helps you manage customer issues more easily and effectively, too. With a place for customers to air issues or grievances, they’re less inclined to vent them on the public social networks where they could go viral and cause PR problems.
Mistake #3: Not monitoring the community.
Growing a community of fans is like growing a garden, you have to tend to it regularly — too many companies put in the initial effort to create a community only to leave it fallow and uncultivated. Not surprisingly, the customers who visit these communities find them lifeless, abandoned, and figuratively overgrown with weeds.
Not monitoring and mediating your community just shows your customers that you don’t care about them. Whereas responding quickly to community issues within your own community impresses people and encourages them to come back and spend time there. That “together time” builds relationships with your customers that spreads goodwill, reduces support costs, resolves issues faster, and helps retains valuable, long-term customers.
Mistake #4: Not mining your community’s data.
Once implemented, a social community gives you easy access and control of the content and, more importantly, the data created and/or shared by customers using the platform. That data makes a social community a great marketing vehicle, too.
Detailed customer data profiles let you segment customers into groups so that you can make relevant offers to members based on specific likes or dislikes. That way, you avoid annoying the others, and the target group feels that your brand understands and appreciates them.
Better yet, because the social platform is yours, all your community-building efforts — i.e. any updates, offers, or messages — are never sent unseen into a black hole due to some random algorithm change.
Mistake #5: Not giving reasons to come back.
After a reasonable period of time, most social communities become self-sustaining, but in the beginning, people need some incentive to visit and spend their time there. To that end, it’s rarely a bad idea to reward them with exclusive, member-only discounts, offers, contests, or sweepstakes.
Perks of this sort reinforce the idea that being a member of the community has very tangible benefits for your visitors. Also, in addition to these more rational reasons, the feeling of “being special” to your brand will keep people coming back again and again.
If you build it (right), they will come.
More and more organizations are finding that an enterprise social platform builds valuable community between brands and their customers. See how tibbr can help your customers more engaged and enthusiastic about your brand — sign up for a free tibbr social community trial now.