We can bet that at least once, you’ve sought help from online communities for a software issue you’ve encountered, or asked questions about a tool you had no idea how to use. And you likely received the answers you were looking for — thanks to insightful responses from fellow members.
A community can be anything from Facebook groups, to subreddits, to forums on tech how-tos and demos. It is also a great way for brands, experts, employees, end consumers, and people within a similar space to find common ground.
Generally speaking, the right community enables you to:
- Network and engage with other marketers
- Build brand awareness
- Learn tricks of the trade
- Rub elbows with industry leaders
- Foster meaningful relationships
- Be updated with industry news and trends
But product experience isn’t the only thing shaped by communities; there’s a lot more to it than just answering questions. Communities are all about connections, knowledge, and even brand awareness.
Creating Opportunities for Meaningful Connections
As social media users grow in number and platforms try to keep up with the speed with which ideas are being exchanged, authenticity and safe spaces have become an important part of the online experience. This has pushed most people to look for other communities where they can find more value and form more meaningful connections.
Online community platforms are designed to connect people with strong common interests, enabling them to have focused discussions on the things that matter to them most. In fact, 36% of users say that online communities are better avenues for meaningful conversations as compared to social media. Entry to forums is also often better controlled, allowing for more respectful and insightful discussions.
As online communities flourish, groups become tightly-bound as ever. With knowledge and authenticity at the top of people’s minds, how can brands build a community and effectively build a brand at the same time?
Building A Brand Community
A study from the Global Web Index revealed that 4 in 5 users are receptive to the presence of brands in forums, mainly due to the fact that brands help users foster authentic relationships that they don’t normally get elsewhere online. Brands can leverage that intention to make customers feel like they truly belong to a real community, rather than feel lost amongst millions of brand followers on a social media platform.
Furthermore, the creation of niche interest groups is proof of how these relationships are at the core of online communities. Marketers find value in engaging with niche interest groups, or “micro-tribes,” compared to the mass market. Consumers are at an advantage, too — 75% of them find value from interacting with other customers within a brand community. These consumer groups are more likely to rally around a brand’s advocacy, support a common cause, and show brand loyalty, depending on their specific interests or industries.
Content for Your Community
Communities are always on the lookout for brands that understand their language, even more so when these brands take time to spark discussions centered around their needs and interests. By providing customer support, one-on-one information sharing, and engaging members with topics relevant to your brand, you can foster genuine, personalized responses and strengthen the bridge that connects you to your community.
SaaS Marketing Communities
Here are some noteworthy examples of how SaaS companies have successfully nurtured communities of their own.
- Shopify – eCommerce platform Shopify’s community has since amassed a total of 889,771 members, a number that continues to grow daily. The community is a go-to for subscribers for their questions about the app, payments, shipping, social impact, and subscription APIs.
- Airbnb – The multi-billion-dollar company definitely boosted peoples’ passion for travel to new heights. Airbnb’s community has grown exponentially since its inception in 2007, and is now one of the biggest insight and support platforms on the web. The Airbnb host community enables members to connect with other members from different locations, share tips, and even organize social gatherings within a region.
- Squadhelp – Squadhelp’s community has been running for 9 years now, with Twitter and their own forum page being their primary platforms for interacting with users. Grant Polachek, head of marketing and branding, says: “User engagement is a primary growth source for our page, and many people will post their domain sales connecting with Squadhelp. This helps drive their own domain but also increases Squadhelp’s visibility throughout the platform.”
Your community is one of the most unique things about your company, and is what connects you to your market. It is powerful enough to influence purchasing decisions, shape customer ideals, and fuel your business’s growth. In short, building a thriving community is also a key element to real success.
Photography by Edu Lauton via Unsplash.