Building Better Branding Through Online Community

Whether you’re promoting your own brand or a client’s, keeping your team interested in the project Slack channel, or sparking more engagement in your org’s online training program, the common denominator for success is: COMMUNITY.

Build with the best intentions

Building community in a way that feels (and is) authentic could seem either easy or daunting, depending upon on your particular POV, level of social media savvy, or brand fandom experiences. Yeah, sure, there are already plenty of people out there telling us how to be the best brand ambassadors in the universe. Some of these guiding principles for brand and community building are spot on, while others seriously miss the mark.

But creating an online environment where you and your people (clients, employees, customers) can authentically engage, is actually quite intuitive (or should be).

Authentically connect, and the people will come

1) Give people a reason to be there. When it’s clear why people should show up to your conversation’s platform, and also clear what there is to gain from participating, they will do just that. And that “there” needs to be where real, meaningful conversation is happening on the regular.

2) Be consistent with your content and focus. Keep fairly tight parameters in mind when launching prompts. If questions are too vague, people won’t know what to offer to the conversation. If discussion topics cast too wide a net, people will drift away.

3) Inspire information exchange. One sure-fire way to drive conversation is to invite people to share what they know with each other, rather than you serving as the sole content expert. Most of us enjoy being helpful, sharing resources, and directing others to content that we’re excited about. Help facilitate that energy and see what happens naturally.

4) Make people feel special. We tend to respond positively to content that makes us feel included in something cool, something that not many people have access to. That’s the type of exclusivity vibe that helps us stay engaged. It directly taps into the “what’s in it for me?” approach. And it works.

5) Help solve problems. Sure, we like to be helpful to others, but we also like to be helped. If the conversation addresses needs directly, clearly, and simply, people will clamor to get in on it – especially if it’s practical information we can use right away.

6) Promote others. It’s really important to offer shout-outs to those who inspire within the community you’re growing. The good news is giving others praise is about the easiest thing we can do.

7) Connect people. Along with recognizing the achievements of others within your group, it’s really cool to connect like with like. Someone in the conversation has a question about futures planning? Hook ‘em up with the person offering that kind of strategic consulting. Watch new ideas get some serious loft.

8) Be responsive. There will be a point when you’re not able to devote the time needed to respond to every question or comment. But you must do so when you’re gaining traction on your community’s social media channel, and certainly must in your in-house training program. Reply to questions. Redirect interest and enthusiasm to new conversation topics. Connect people to other people and resources. “See” and engage with your participants.

9) Start small. Guess what? You already do most of these things in your daily life as a human and in your role as a professional. Use what you already know to create online conversations and communities that matter. Plant one small seed and see what happens. When you act intentionally, that’s when the REAL transpires.

What great brands do you follow for the community they’re building/have built? #questionandanswer #branding

Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.
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