Transforming audiences into communities: Understanding the right channels
As most marketers know, when it comes to connecting with your perfect audience, it’s often a matter of reaching them in the right place and the right time. This is also true of building communities, just because you found your audience in one place, doesn’t mean it’s the best place to build an active community.
In this series, we’re talking to real marketers and brands about how they did it. In our previous blog, we focused on offering real value. This time, we’re exploring the importance of selecting the right platform for your audience to transform them into a true community.
‘With all of the effort to find an audience and bring them into our eco-system, we wanted to make sure we kept them there’ - Marquis Matson, VP of Growth
In the age of modern marketing, many brands are founded on values that shape the kind of product they create and the customers they want to reach. For Sozy, their mission is to collectively make a difference by creating cosy stylish clothing for women which donates 10% of its profits to charitable causes. An e-commerce site with heart, Marquis Matson took a strategic approach to building a community around the brand.
This involved choosing a dedicated platform for conversation, by creating a VIP Community using a private Facebook group which offers customers a chance to shape the future of the business. “Our community not only helps spread the message to others, we keep the conversation going asking them for their input on upcoming designs and fabrics,” said Marquis. “They truly do feel like a part of the community.” In return, community members enjoy discounts and are frequently promoted on the brand accounts.
‘You have to use the proper channels to get your content seen if you want to be successful’ - Mike Chappell, Founder
It’s not about how you say it, it’s where you say it. Formspal, an online platform that offers free legal forms online for a variety of purposes, was built with the intention of supporting communities and individuals regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion. This ethos runs right through the brand, right down to how they choose to communicate.
“It’s wise to consider both your customers and your business when determining which platforms to use,” said Mike Chappell. “You must ensure that your customers can communicate with you by setting up accounts on the platforms they use.” The best way to do this is by spending time researching your audience and understanding what competitors are doing well, to select the right place to talk to your community.
‘We support each other the best we can and that’s what matters’ - Islin Munisteri, VP of Sales & Marketing
To build a truly engaged community, it needs to be about more than shifting product. Affinities, beliefs and even lifestyle choices can impact how customers and businesses choose to engage with you. For start-ups and entrepreneurs, a successful community is one that can offer support for the day-to-day challenges, which is important to Islin Munisteri of Theia Marketing.
“I help run a community for mental health awareness and ending the stigma,” said Islin. “My co-creator set up a Slack group and I run weekly check-ins.” They noted several benefits of providing industry-focused peer-to-peer support, including helping other entrepreneurs win business, build their confidence, and contributing to the wider community. By choosing a more informal, private platform like Slack, they were able to make room for conversation.
‘Community growth has been our central focus since our small organization's creation in 2017’ - Brittany Holdahl, Executive Director
Trust is the key that sets a community apart from your average audience, helping members to connect closely with the brand and each other. For Argent Combat, community has been a central focus of their work since they were first founded nearly five years ago. As a company which promotes safety and excellence in action-oriented entertainment, trust is a core value. “That focus has intensified during isolation in quarantine,” said Brittany Holdahl.
Argent Combat took a threefold approach to building their community across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. “Do the research needed to see what is going on in our community, immediately shut down any toxic activity, and collaborate with similar organisations,” said Brittany. “As a result, our engagement has skyrocketed and [our] active community is a testament to how well we are doing!”
‘You need a platform where your audience can interact with each other’ - Michael Humphreys, Founder
If you want to smoke the competition in terms of community, you need a platform where your audience can interact with each other. This is the core principle behind Z Grills Australia, a start-up company which manufactures wood pellet smoker grills. According to Michael Humphreys, the company focuses on providing the best possible overall user experience, which means they collect as much feedback from customers as possible.
“Some businesses host their own forums, but a more cost-friendly option is using existing platforms where you can create groups, private or public,” said Michael. Most importantly of all, Michael emphasised the role of community managers in actively strengthening and nurturing online communities. “This will all root from how you communicate with your audience in the first place,” he said. “Newsletters can also promote your community by providing exclusive news, offers, and discounts.”
‘People want to share their outfit of the day, their latest addition to their wardrobe or simply ask people for their opinions’ - Emily Atkins, Digital Marketing & Acquisition Manager
Fashion and community go hand-in-hand, particularly when your target audience is a passionate and vocal community of sneakerheads looking for the latest news on limited edition releases. The Sole Supplier saw a need and created a website and community which thrived off social sharing. “People want to share their outfit of the day, their latest wardrove addition, or just ask people for their opinions,” said Emily Atkins. “It was a no brainer for us to encompass these discussion and ensure there was always a two-way conversation.”
Emily took a strategic approach to how communities formed, analysing the data available to segment their audience appropriately across social platforms. “We created two private Facebook groups, which have amassed nearly 80,000 of our most engaged community members,” she said. “Additionally, our Instagram engagement strategy has been a success, ensuring every Instagram Direct Message is responded to and re-sharing UGC”. Through hard work and an always-on approach, The Sole Supplier were able to make their community feel like a part of something special.
Looking for more inspiration to transform your audiences into engaged communities? Browse the Audiense blog.