Community is the cornerstone of fandom. Being part of a tribe gives us a sense of belonging and security that breeds loyalty. These group followings are crucial to a brand’s success. Fans are more likely to offer something that will enrich the brand if they feel like they are part of an affiliated community.
At UNRVLD we’re well versed in leveraging the latest technology to build digital experiences that ensure these communities develop for your brand. There are various strategies and features you can implement across your digital platforms to encourage engagement, interaction and a sense of belonging among your audience.
Here are some key approaches:
Carve out a designated space for your community to develop
By creating a dedicated section on your digital channels for fans to interact with your brand you empower them to share experiences, discuss related topics and interact with other fans. Take new market entrants Glossier, for example – the direct-to-consumer beauty brand whose army of 2.7 million Instagram followers have blown up the beauty industry. Glossier initially built a community through Into the Gloss, a peer-to-peer blog that shares beauty tips and creates a two-way conversation with its customers. Now, Glossier also ask fans for advice on the ways in which new products are created, giving them influence over business decisions and the products they love. This level of engagement builds trust, strengthens the community and encourages others to participate. The early engagement with fans, genuine interest in feedback and customer-first outlook, has built Glossier’s loyal cult following from the ground up.
Embrace user-generated content and influencer partnerships
Once established, strengthen this brand community with user-generated content, encouraging fans to create and share their own content related to your brand and products. By highlighting and showcasing the best user-generated content on your website and social media platform, your fans become a part of your brand and its promotion. This not only fosters a sense of community and encourages fan-to-fan interaction, but also demonstrates appreciation for your fans in a community-powered marketing programme.
Build out your community further by collaborating with influencers and celebrities associated with your brand’s target market. This is a great way to promote your brand and gain credibility among pre-established communities to widen reach, whilst retaining your brand image. Consumers are more likely to follow a recommendation and influencers are a great way to grow your brand community online.
Establish proximity to strengthen engagement
To build a tribe of loyal and passionate fans, invest in nurturing active relationships with your followers, subscribers, members and customers; whilst also encouraging your fanbase to connect with each other. Employ both physical and virtual means to bring fans together around key events to foster genuine connections. When a group of sports fans come together to watch their favourite team in a live setting, the sense of comradery and togetherness is intensified, as is their connection to the club. In the same way, brands too can bring their fans together over their shared common interest. Twitch, a live streaming platform, organises events such as TwitchCon, where fans can meet their favourite streamers, participate in gaming tournaments and connect with other members of the Twitch community. These events provide a physical space for fans to gather, interact and strengthen their sense of community.
Create exclusive communities
Once formed and grown through free content and socially driven marketing programmes, look to commercialise your pre-existing communities with exclusive membership programmes. Joe Wicks’ Body Coach app is a great example of the way brands can monetise a following with a subscription-based product. Retail brands especially can elicit a sense of exclusivity through digital loyalty programs and early access to new products. These value ad-activities build relationships with customers that drive better business outcomes in the long run, fostering greater brand loyalty that can ultimately drive fandom.
These days, a loyal community of advocates is critical to a brand’s success; making it imperative that you devise creative ways to develop and cultivate lasting human connections with your customers. By implementing these strategies and understanding your audience's preferences, you’ll be creating an environment where your fans feel connected, valued, and engaged.
If you want to learn more on this topic, register for our Fuelling Fandom: Breakfast Roundtable, June 15, to discuss actionable strategies for your brand.
Find out how UNRVLD has worked with Essex University to reposition its digital brand and deliver a first class customer experience for its students that stimulates higher engagement and stronger community