understand the power of connections for your brand – WAU
When you hear the word “community”, what comes to your mind? The late Orkut? The region where you live? A lot of people living in the woods? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you are right! If you answered “no”, too! As well? A community can be all that, but not […]
When you hear the word “community”, what comes to your mind? The late Orkut? The region where you live? A lot of people living in the woods? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you are right! If you answered “no”, too! As well?
A community can be all of that, but not only that.
Despite being a widely used word in the virtual universe, little is discussed about the use of communities for specific purposes – including marketing.
Some brands have invested in building communities focused on their products and services, but this is not always enough to engage a group of people.
It is in this context that Community Marketing emerges, a strategy that acts in a double movement: offer and promote a creative space for building connections between individuals with common interests while identifying the needs of this group in order to propose efficient solutions for all involved.
Do you want to understand a little better about this engagement tool? So come with us!
In this post, we will help you to understand a little better the potential to work with communities in favor of your business.
What is a community?
Etymologically, the word “community” comes from the Latin “communitāte” and encompasses the idea of something common, shared. Although it is widely used in the sense of grouping, a community is much more than a group of people: it is a interest group.
In the past, this concept designated a group of individuals who lived close together geographically, sharing practices and customs, that is, it was a group that had several points of similarity.
The repetition of behaviors created patterns that homogenized the profiles of its members.
However, with the spread of the internet and with the digital transformation, this concept also came to include those people who did not necessarily have many points in common.
It was enough to find a similarity to create a space for dialogue and sharing – which tended to attract more people who were interested in similar issues.
With this new perspective, it was possible to build virtual communities that created habits, languages and routines that no longer needed to be shared face to face. The possibility of contacting people from other regions of the world has made this process much more complex.
Based on this, the formation of communities, although still a practice centered on common interests, allowed each of its members to maintain their individuality without losing the notion of belonging. A community, then, ceased to be a pre-defined rigid structure and became a space in permanent (re) construction.
Thus, creating – or identifying – a community, attracting new people, promoting dialogues, increasing engagement, producing content and strengthening ties between its members has become an even greater challenge.
It is not enough to leave them together and wait for them to create together. It’s needed build a space that provides these interactions.
And the best way to do that for a business is to invest in a good Community Marketing strategy.
What is Community Marketing?
At first, the definition of Community Marketing can be understood as the attempt to strengthen ties with people who already consume your products and services, monitoring your needs and your impressions about your brand or your company.
It is a tool to identify the positions of your consumer community and deliver value to satisfy these people’s desires.
This is done by conquering and occupying a space in the minds and preferences of those who already consume what you have to offer.
This concept is usually linked to the dynamics of companies that do not depend directly on their communities. They exist as an attachment, as something else that contributes to the development of business opportunities.
However, it has become increasingly common to create companies that depend directly on a community of people: while the organization offers an exchange space – such as software, a platform or an application -, they are its members who perform the basic functions of the business.
Thus, it is not enough to just follow what is being said about your brand; you need to create spaces for map growth and development opportunities, while offering support through direct and transparent dialogue with these people.
That is, it is a two-way street.
For this reason, it is necessary to reconcile the interests of everyone involved in this process and to position itself as a good option so that your community not only grows, but remains active and engaged.
For this, it is essential to work 3 pillars of Community Marketing: the alignment of the members, the alignment of the company and the resulting positioning.
Alignment of members
Before developing your community, it is essential to understand what it has to offer to its members, that is, it is necessary to identify needs and motivations of these people that you intend to attract and, from that, build a space that offers what they are looking for.
Just map who the members are – real, if you already have a community set up, or potential, if you’re still in the construction process – to understand a few factors:
- what do they look for in that space?
- what do they see as strengths and weaknesses?
- what is the motivation to stay engaged there?
At this stage, you need to know in depth who are the people who will interact with you, with your brand, with your products, with your team and with the other members.
So, don’t be afraid to ask, map, research, listen, test… The purpose here is gather the most relevant information about this crowd.
With that in hand, it’s time to define your persona: who are the ideal members of your community? Who will you focus your attraction and development efforts on? Why would they be motivated to participate? What problem do you intend to solve?
Just as you need to understand what members expect from the community, you need to make it clear what your business expects hers too.
In other words, it is essential to define a clear objective for the creation and maintenance of this space so that your actions have a clear purpose for everyone involved.
Talk to your team, your peers and the company’s management to define exactly what the organization expects from this community: map dissatisfactions? Collect innovation ideas? Provide support? Produce together? Create engagement around the brand? Listen to everything your people have to say!
After that, you must not only map and identify your business objective (s); you must align it (s) with community members – not just to create a transparent space for dialogue, but to leave everyone on the same page.
At all times, members must know what the company expects connections made in the community.
After understanding what the involved parties expect from the community, it is time to create its position, that is, the reconciliation between all the wills with the objective of creating a pleasant and relevant space for members and the company. It is necessary to measure how much the members are influenced by the company and vice versa.
Thus, it is essential to define 4 essential information for the functioning of your community: its mission, its values, its voice and its benefits.
- Mission: it’s basically the purpose of your community, the motivation for you to want to create a space like this. It is what you hope to see as a result of the interactions and everything that is produced collaboratively by everyone involved.
- Values: it is the culture of your community, the precepts that all members – including the company – must follow to maintain the organization of the interaction space. It is a list of cares that you expect everyone to follow to create an environment of respect and collaboration.
- Voice: it is the personality that you must adopt before your community, the way you deal with other members. It is not because it is a space for collaboration and dialogue that we have to let everything go. To prioritize order in a community, it is essential to have a moderator – a person or group of people responsible for mediating and organizing interactions.
- Benefits: is the set of advantages that a member can have in being part of his community. It is what the group can offer to each of the members, by delivering the value they expected when entering their community. It’s solving your problems, giving support, listening to your ideas, and so on. It is what motivates these people to be part of this space.
After defining these points, it’s time to put them into practice. With these reflections as a basis, it becomes much simpler to understand how to act in each situation and how to propose solutions for each connection established in your community.
This survey works as a good practice guide which aim to direct any and all actions towards the objective outlined at the beginning of the process.
How to build – or expand – a community?
The first care that must be taken when starting the process of creating a community is to build a well-defined persona.
With the data collected in the alignment and positioning steps, you have the information you need to understand exactly who your ideal member is.
The next step is to define the identity of your community, that is, which aspects will be fundamental for the members to see themselves in the group’s purpose and want to be part of it. Here, it is also essential to make clear why your community is most interesting to him and why that individual is so necessary for the dynamics of the group.
At this stage, it is very important to show people that you want to attract what sets your community apart from the rest, that is, remember that it is necessary to present a value proposition that fits the needs of members and the company.
If this is tied tightly, the members’ sense of belonging allows them to adopt the identity of their community.
Having these issues defined and aligned, it is time to get your hands dirty: attract people who fit your persona description, convert them into members and enable them to participate according to your guidelines and goals. But let’s go by parts!
To apply this, you must understand the 3 Cs of community building: capture, training and conversion.
The first step is to attract the right people to your community. It is necessary to create a possible dialogue with all those who have the profile outlined by you in the alignment stage and, for this, it is essential:
- Identify where they are;
- Understand your difficulties;
- Map your needs;
- Understand your priorities;
- Monitor how they communicate.
With that information identified, you now have material to talk to these people directly and the best way to do that is to producing relevant and appropriate content for the objectives of this group.
Did you notice that their biggest problem is not being able to pay all the bills at the end of the month? Produce an article that teaches you how to organize yourself financially or supplement your income as a freelancer.
The opportunities are endless, as long as you keep your production aligned with your persona.
A good way to do this is to map themes and subjects that your ideal member has been consuming on the internet: join similar groups on Facebook, subscribe to newsletters that deal with similar subjects, follow profiles on social networks…
Anyway, do a benchmarking with the companies you admire, but mainly with the users that fit the profile you want to attract. The goal here is have ideas to capture this crowd.
Done? So, it’s time to produce these materials!
Write texts, develop infographics, produce videos, create images – taking into account some criteria and care to deliver content with the same quality standard.
Finally, it is essential to keep your objective in mind with these materials: to transform people with the profile you are looking for into active members of your community. That is, you must be based on what they are looking for, but you must direct your content to that end, showing the advantages of becoming a member.
Ready materials and content? Great! You should now make them available to your potential members. Remember that your goal should be to attract them, but also teach them something.
This is one of the main ways of add value to your productions – after all, before asking them to do anything, you need to offer something in return.
The good thing is that, in these cases, your offers should directly contribute to the alignment of these people. While you teach them, you empower them to be part of your community.
Here, you have a golden opportunity to teach them about what they can do if they become part of your community.
If we make an analogy with the sales funnel, this step would be equivalent to the phases of attraction and consideration, since the availability of your content and materials must come linked to an invitation to be part of your community.
It may seem confusing, but the explanation for this practice is very simple: without members there is no community.
For you to be able to expand your group more and more, you need to have some engaged individuals participating in this space, even if they are not yet properly trained on the purpose of the community.
One thing that you need to keep in mind at all times is that your community should be a space in permanent reconstruction. Of course, it is necessary to have guidelines, rules and objectives, but as it grows, it changes – and that is where the power of these connections lives.
A business-oriented community does not respond to the logic of the mass media audience, in which one more person does not necessarily transform the entire space.
It responds to collaborative logic, in which the addition of an individual is able to reconfigure the entire dynamics of a group – after all, it is a space for mutual, constant and synchronous exchanges.
But beauty: how, then, to reach these people? Let them come to you!
In fact, if you already have an interested lead base or already have a group of people that constantly interact with your brand, great! It is time to organize these interactions with your community.
If you still need to attract people from scratch, the tip is invest in Content Marketing: define your strategy, plan your actions, organize an editorial calendar, produce content, create a blog, publish them there, promote on social networks, measure your numbers, develop newsletters and so on. You know the drill!
You managed to attract and train a crowd, they are about to be part of your community, now what? You already convinced them that it is good to be part of this group and you have already taught the main points of your community, so what? Is the job over?
In fact, it just started.
The first important point in this step is to offer all the support for potential members to become new members. It may seem cliché, but the first impression is really what remains. Therefore, you must make these people feel at home. Your goal here is build a relationship of trust.
Take this opportunity to realign your community’s purpose and values, while welcoming everyone who is entering.
You need to ensure that every new member feels safe to contribute as you see fit. Whenever you can, reinforce that idea!
A good way to promote the relationship between members is to offer spaces for them to share experiences. Create situations in which they can talk, since it is essential that they develop ties with each other and not just with you or your brand. That’s where the strength of these connections is!
How to manage a community?
With your community in place, it’s time to plan how to manage it. It is not because you attracted people and made them into members that your community is already functional and relevant to your business goals.
It is necessary to guarantee productivity and interactions in this space, since this is where you will get the value of the entire strategy.
To promote engagement among everyone involved, you must invest in 4 Cs of community management: categorization, content, communication and curation.
As with any Digital Marketing strategy, segmentation it is fundamental to the success of your actions.
There is no point in wanting to treat everyone in your community equally, if they interact, engage and see that space in different ways. It is necessary to categorize each of its members.
The best way to do this is through commitment curve, taking into account the time the member is in his community and the level of engagement he has with the group.
To start, it is a good idea to map the 4 top profiles present in all communities: new, passive, active and influential.
- New: are those who have just joined the community, that is, who need more dedicated and closer support. They are the members who are still in the knowledge phase of the space and of the other individuals interacting there. As they are not yet very engaged, it is essential that you build a relationship of trust as soon as possible.
- Liabilities: are those who have already seen value in being part of their community, but who do not feel the need to share much. It is the members who even follow all discussions, but do not contribute to them. This is not to say that they are not interested, just that they are not engaged enough to comment on something.
- Active: are those who not only see a lot of value in their community, but who feel the need to actively contribute to it. Members comment, interact, respond, download materials and understand the purpose of the group. For this reason, they are always aligned with the community’s values.
- Influential: are those who keep the community active. It is the members who not only interact, but promote the engagement of others. Instead of just following or responding to something, they go further, producing content and contributing to the expansion of the community. For them, it is not enough to consume what is offered; you need to share your own experiences on behalf of the group.
From these definitions, it becomes easier to map which stages its members fall into and, thus, direct their efforts so that they move on to the next level of engagement.
As you can see, these phases also function as a funnel, that is, the number of influential members is generally less than the number of passive members, for example.
However, this is not necessarily a problem, since the overwhelming majority of interactions and content will be produced by the smallest portion of your community. The important thing is to define the engagement levels ideal for each stage of the commitment curve and produce specific content for these purposes.
The next step in managing a community is producing content to nurture, engage and empower its members.
The first step in this is to define what is needed teach for each person according to their position on the commitment curve.
In addition, it is essential to monitor everyone’s interactions to identify possible bottlenecks in alignment or misinformation in the community. The production of materials must be guided by the participation of members – they are the biggest source of information you can have about your needs.
Just as we divide the types of content and their themes into Content Marketing strategies, you can carry out this process for the production of materials for your community.
The formats can be several: articles, e-books, videos, infographics, webinars and everything in your power to make information available to your members.
What is important to keep in mind is that they should be used as a repository of information so that everyone has access to the guidelines of the group itself.
For this, a good idea is to produce – at least, at first – a set of basic contents to address some important points. For example:
- What is the purpose of the community?
- By what values is it guided?
- What are good participation practices?
- How to file a complaint?
- How to suggest improvements in any process?
- Who to solve a problem with?
- Who is responsible for support and how do I talk to him?
As interactions are taking place, you must map new content needs and assess which format is most relevant for passing on that information: if it is a step-by-step, for example, it is better to create an infographic; for a tutorial, a video can work perfectly. The important thing is to keep this communication channel always open.
That said, we move on to the third – and most important! – pillar of community management: communication.
It is through it that we establish our contact with members, align all objectives and share fundamental information for the functioning of this collaborative space.
This stage must be monitored very closely because it must be in constant maintenance.
To make yourself heard or to hear the members, you need to be connected to everything that is being discussed by your community. You need to be present in all discussions to generate authority is for monitor the level of participation of the staff.
In addition, it is essential to establish open, accessible and transparent channels of dialogue for all people in your community. It is through your communication strategies that you will inform members of important points of that space and will provide support for possible doubts and possible problems.
For this, you must invest in at least 3 communication channels that must be used simultaneously in an aligned manner, but that must serve different purposes: email, social networks and ombudsman.
This should be your main alignment and communication tool. As we are dealing with a virtual community, the email address works as the ID of each of its members and, therefore, it is essential that you collect this information from all people interested in being part of your community.
Your email should have two main functions: shoot to your base and support to any demand that comes to him.
In both cases, you must use some tools to help you with these actions: an automation software to assist in the control of email marketing and conversions and another for the management of support requests.
With these numbers in hand, it becomes much easier to monitor the effectiveness of your actions, as this type of measurement gives you relevant information about the quality of the monitoring provided to its members.
Remember that the satisfaction of them is a great indication that you are doing a good job.
In the part of creating email marketing, it is your responsibility to develop the copy that goes in the body of the email, create the segmentations, set up the message structure, schedule the trigger for times of higher conversion and monitor the rates – of opening, of click, unsubscribed, for example.
All in order to nourish its members with relevant information for the work of everyone involved.
If any rule has changed or some functionality in the environment in which members are inserted has undergone any change, it is through communication via email that this must be aligned with everyone.
On the support side, although checking your email and resolving the issues that come to it is very important, it is a good practice define a period of the day or week or designate someone on your team to fulfill that role.
Depending on the size of your community, this task can take the entire expedient with just email responses and member assistance.
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