Humans are social beings and being in a community is their most basic instinct. With changing times, communities have evolved from a real-world to a digital one. Online social platforms have changed the way humans interact with each other and diminished regional boundaries. Social media has brought people closer and made it easier to form virtual communities based on common interests.
Businesses are using social media to target communities and use customers’ networking channels to grow their market presence. Online communities help businesses sell without advertising as communities and enjoy the benefits of customer insights and loyalty. Growing large scale communities have given rise to online community marketing as a viable marketing strategy.
What is Community Marketing?
Community marketing involves engaging with a community of existing customers to build and enhance brand presence. Community marketing usually takes place on social platforms or websites such as Facebook groups, message platforms, online forums, and Twitter accounts. These communities provide their members a platform to express their needs and allow companies to respond and make them feel important.
Unlike other marketing strategies such as advertising and PR, community marketing focuses mainly on building customer relationships and improve engagement. Acquiring a new customer is far easier and inexpensive as compared to retaining an existing customer. Community marketing helps businesses with focusing on the needs of current customers and work towards a higher retention rate.
5 Battlefields of Online Community Marketing
There are several social platforms that act like online communities and facilitate group marketing:
When it comes to social media platforms, this name needs no introduction. Facebook is one of the first social networking platforms that has allowed people to connect with their friends and family and find community based on common interests. Facebook has more than 2.45 billion users worldwide and is used by all age groups. Facebook as a social platform is widely used by businesses to create a strong brand presence and create awareness. Facebook communities are also targeted by businesses to connect with their existing customers or future customers and understand their needs.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms and has over 1.5 billion users worldwide. WhatsApp is majorly used as a personal messaging platform that is used by individuals to connect with their family, close friends, and social community. WhatsApp is used to create social groups similar to communities where people with similar interests can engage with earth other in meaningful and healthy conversations. Businesses can create WhatsApp groups with existing customers and build a strong bond with them.
Group marketing through WhatsApp also has the advantage that group members can easily turn to loyal customers and also bring more customers through personal recommendations.
Telegram is again a social messaging platform that allows users to send multimedia messages and perform audio as well as video calls. Telegram also acts as a group marketing agent for businesses and helps them engage with customers. Businesses can use the platform to hear about the needs and suggestions from existing customers and improvise accordingly.
Quora is a social forum, where users can share information in any conversation of their choosing. Some topics are more robustly answered than others. But sometimes, you can strike gold and find a thread with more meaningful responses than you ever thought you needed. Quora is the best place to find enthusiastic communities that show a high level of interest and share valuable insights.
Unlike other community marketing platforms, marketing is done by customers themselves and have a much higher impact on current as well as future customers.
Instagram is one of the most engaging platforms where businesses can build large communities easily. Instagram is a photo and video sharing app but is widely used by e-commerce businesses as a marketing platform. According to a recent study, 72% of Instagram users report making a purchase decision after seeing something on Instagram, with the most popular categories being clothing, makeup, shoes, and jewelry.
Businesses use Instagram to build a strong community of people who love the brand or products and also sell them directly. Instagram also allows businesses to interact with their community members instantly and generate new leads.
Popular Examples of Community Marketing
There are several big brands, that flaunt their community marketing skills most uniquely and manages to capture huge attention from the audiences. Here are a few of them.
Starbucks is one of the most popular international brand known for its coffee. Starbucks has managed to build a strong presence on social media as well. With more than 37 million fans, the Starbucks Facebook page is in the top 10 brand pages. One of the things Starbucks does right is they give people tips to help them use their products.
Starbucks also shows holiday-themed images and unusual pictures that add a fun element for customers to enjoy keep community members engaged
Hellmann’s is a popular name all thanks to its mayo products and its unique marketing strategy. Hellmann’s ran a campaign ‘WhatsCook’ through which it asked its customers to click a picture of the ingredients in their fridge and send them on WhatsApp. A real chef would then advise on a recipe that can be made using those ingredients. This campaign was a huge hit and saw more than 5 mn impressions and 13000+ signups.
Qantas Airline Advice
A 10-year-old boy wrote to Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas Airways of Australia, telling him about the new airline he was creating and if Joyce had any advice. Joyce responded spectacularly, sending the aspiring airline exec a professionally written response answering all of his questions. In addition to inspiring “Awwws!” across Australia as the story got picked up by several news outlets, Joyce also flexed the airline’s core values in his letter: safety, comfort, and affordability.
This thread on Quora was widely shared and got Qantas Airline lots of appreciation.
Airbnb is a tourism and hospitality company but is known for its captivating campaigns. One of its campaigns ‘Experiences’ was one such campaign that took social media by storm. The campaign pulled in locals from different parts of the world to offer curated experiences, encouraging people to book, share and travel more. Starting from the Instagram feed, the campaign extended to stories, ads, along with TV, print, and other channels.
Community marketing existed long before we knew about it, but social media has given a whole new definition. As a business, social media can play a major role in building a strong and unique brand presence. By connecting with customers on common ground and finding ways to keep them engaged, you can build a strong online community for yourself in no time. To learn more about WhatsApp marketing through WhatsApp Business and SCRM tools here.