Building a brand is HARD.
Building a brand and nurturing a community… HARDER.
The good news is community ≠ success.
Building a community is a great way to build a brand – it keeps your audience close, provides you with a strong feedback loop and can reduce your reliance on paid advertising.
But it’s hard work, people don’t want to build a deep connection with every company they shop with and it can be a distraction.
So know this - you don’t need to build a community.
There are a few brands in my life where I genuinely feel like I’m part of a community and find real value in it. Then there are those that I don’t take any interest in beyond needing the product/service they offer, at the time I need it - and they are top of mind when I do!
Think about the brands you interact with, notice the same thing?
Generally, community building is better suited to certain types of brands.
And there are ways to figure out if it’s right for yours or not.
So before you set up that Facebook group, Slack channel or another Instagram account, here’s how to know whether it’s worth investing in community building for your brand👇
The benefits of a community are huge. For brands like Glossier, the community even existed before the brand itself. It was community-first.
As advertising channels (Facebook, Google etc.) get more expensive and competition grows, it’s harder to get your brand in front of people. Building a community can help reduce your spend on advertising by letting customers spread the word about your brand through word-of-mouth. It’s estimated $6 trillion-worth of annual global spending comes through word-of-mouth which can amplify the effect of paid media by 15%.
Writing in Harvard Business Review, Richard Millington said a client of his was able to cut customer service costs by 72% thanks to community members answering each other’s questions.
The better you know your audience, the better chance you have of producing new products they’ll love. But brands don’t get it right every time. Having a community to get feedback from on new ideas is a great way to reduce the risk of launching a new product customers don’t need or want. Hair care brand RUKA has built up a community of 500 co-creators and 40 stylists that regularly provide feedback on products, helping shape what the brand is today.
Building a community takes time and a lot of effort. And there’s no guarantee it will work. But beyond the obvious risks, there are a few key things to consider before you commit.
The pursuit of a dream brand community can easily distract you and your team from the stuff that matters more. Such as making your product better! New brands need focus. Doing a few things really well beats being everywhere and for everyone. You and your team don’t need to be spreading yourselves too thin. A community can take focus away from the more important tasks at hand. So it’s always worth figuring out your priorities before trying to do too much.
Communities don’t grow overnight. And despite common assumptions, they rarely sustain themselves. They need a lot of hard work, time and commitment. This means less time for you and your team to work on other things. That’s why it’s important to know if a community is worth investing in for your brand before you commit to something that will take a good chunk of your time.
Keep being an outlier 💪
J + K