Talented content marketing agency Archant Dialogue guest blogs about building a brand community for your membership.
Brand community are not just a buzzwords, they’re a vital part of building membership engagement.
‘Brand’ can sometimes be a dirty word when you are a membership organisation, but a brand community should be an asset for all organisations, member-driven or otherwise. One of our key takeaway’s from this year’s memcom conference is that membership is indeed a business and you have to understand this or fail. What’s more for the member, being part of it is a badge of pride – and that badge is your brand. And even though the concept may have shifted with the evolution of digital and social media, a brand community is still very much something to be prized.
What is a brand community?
Any brand community forms around an attachment to a product, service or business – whether B2C or even B2B. And technology has made it easier than ever to build channels for membership organisations to target, segment and engage audiences, be that through app, website, mailer, social media or outreach (PR). This has also facilitated communication with them on a more regular basis, key in creating brand loyalty.
How do brand communities create value?
Most brands are now vying to create communities because they can be valuable for both the business and the consumer. We surveyed 1,200 adults in the UK in association with Censuswide to examine attitudes towards brand community, loyalty and communications, discovering there were similarities across all sectors in terms of value. The report can be downloaded here.
How to measure the value of brand communities
All brands need to assess the value of what they’re doing – and metrics can range from the financial – purchase or membership – to digital measurements like engagement, shares and click-throughs. Some of the latter may be more about brand awareness in the short term but feeding communities with relevant content, products and services on an ongoing basis naturally engenders loyalty: our research showed over a third (37%) of consumers would be more likely to stick with a brand rather than switch to a rival if they were part of its community. This rose to 51% of those aged 16-24 year-olds and 50% of those aged 25-34 years old.
Loyalty is naturally driven by engagement – the more you connect with a brand, the greater the propensity to purchase. Focusing on the membership sector specifically, it’s therefore no wonder that increasing member engagement is often now seen as the most important goal, even more than member acquisition.
Furthermore our research revealed brand communities spend more. More than a third (40%) of consumers would be likely to spend more money with a brand if they were a member of a group or a community it had created, 10% of which say they would be very likely to spend more. This is slightly higher at 12% for men.
How to create a branded community in your membership organisation?
While brand communities naturally align with B2C businesses, how can you create a B2B branded community for your members? The obvious answer is LinkedIn where users congregate around thought leadership. However there are other examples of B2B businesses working in a similar way: asset managers often create thought leadership, insight and workshops for their community of IFAs using their services; as do software companies looking to share their expertise with their users. Thought leadership and education is at the heart of these offerings and there are various interesting examples of B2B brand communities in this article.
What do brand communities need to focus on?
Where some brands and businesses are floundering in navigating the complex digital landscape, generating sales and gaining cut-through, the more defined focus of membership organisations works well in the new digital era. Having said that, it’s still important for them to work effectively in this space beyond relevant content, services and products and so acknowledging evolving marketing tactics is increasingly important: be they a member-first strategy, data-driven insight as well as digital, and increasingly, mobile thinking.