Discover the Key Differences Between Your Audience and Community
When building a successful consumer brand, there are two distinct but equally important groups to consider: your audience and your community. While it may seem like these terms are interchangeable, they refer to two different types of relationships your brand can have with its customers. Understanding the difference between the two and how to nurture them can be the key to driving growth and building a loyal customer base.
Audience vs. Community
Your audience is made up of the people who are exposed to your brand’s messaging and content. For example, they may follow your social media accounts, read your blog posts, or receive your email newsletters. Communication with your audience is typically one-to-many, with your brand broadcasting messages to a wide range of people. Your goal with your audience is to build a broad and receptive group of people who are interested in what your brand has to say.
On the other hand, your community is a group of people who share a common interest or value and have a more intimate relationship with your brand. Community members interact with each other, creating a many-to-many relationship that goes beyond a simple broadcast. For example, a brand community comprises people who bond over their shared passion for your brand and what it stands for. They may share stories, offer support and advice, and even become advocates for your brand. The goal with your community is to create a connected group of people who are deeply engaged with your brand and each other.
Why Building a Community Matters
While having a broad audience is essential for increasing brand awareness and driving sales, building a community can have even more significant long-term benefits. A thriving community can create a sense of belonging and emotional connection to your brand, driving customer loyalty and advocacy. In addition, community members are more likely to engage with your brand on a deeper level, provide valuable feedback and insights, and recommend your products or services to others.
So how can you nurture a community around your brand? Here are some key strategies to consider:
Use a Platform that Facilitates Two-Way Conversations
Not all platforms are created equal when it comes to community building. For example, while social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are great for reaching a broad audience, they are still primarily one-to-many relationships, with brands broadcasting content to their followers. To truly foster a sense of community, you need a platform enabling many-to-many interactions, where people can engage and share their own content. Platforms like Facebook Groups or Google Groups are great examples of this type of community building.
Another option is to create your own forum within your app or website. This can be challenging, but it allows you to create a custom community experience that aligns with your brand’s values and goals. For example, LEGO Ideas will enable fans to become LEGO Fan Designers, submitting ideas via its own platform. As a result, ideas that garner the most community interest can be brought to life, produced, and sold.
Invest in Moments that are Hard to Scale
Not everything you do to build your brand has to be scalable. There are opportunities everywhere to create moments that make people feel heard and unique. This could be as simple as responding to every comment on your posts, showing people that you acknowledge and care about their engagement. Or, it could be something bigger, like inviting a select group of people to be guests at your next product launch or offering the chance to contribute ideas for a new product.
These moments are hard to scale, but they say a lot about your brand and create shared experiences that take the customer relationship beyond just a transaction. Think outside the box and keep in mind that these small moments create experiences, and experiences are what creates loyalty.
Empower Your Ambassadors
Once you’ve built a community, it’s essential to identify your brand ambassadors. These people are passionate about your brand and can act as spokespeople for your community. Engage with them regularly through polls, discussions, focus groups, and personal conversations. Empower them to know that their opinions are valued and have a real influence on the business.
Brand ambassadors can provide valuable insights and feedback that can help you improve your products, services, and overall customer experience. They can also help spread the word about your brand to their own networks, driving new members to your community.
Leave it Alone!
While it’s essential to create opportunities for engagement and foster a sense of community, it’s also important to remember that the power of a community is in its autonomy. Your community should be driven by its members, not by your sales team, with an agenda.
Communities that are given space to grow become more trusting of the brand, and insights shared become more authentic and helpful. In an open environment, a community becomes not just a space for brand discussion but also for establishing personal connections and friendships and for opportunities beyond the brand to be discovered.
Building a brand community takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. By understanding the difference between an audience and a community, you can create targeted strategies to nurture both. Use platforms that facilitate two-way conversations, invest in moments that are hard to scale, empower your ambassadors, and remember to let your community grow on its own.
In today’s world, where consumers have countless options, building a community can be the key to standing out from the competition and creating a loyal customer base. By investing in your community, you’re investing in the long-term success of your brand.
So, start thinking about how you can build a community around your brand today. Whether it’s through social media, forums, or in-person events, there are countless ways to create a sense of connection and belonging that will drive growth and success for years to come.
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