In recent years, the emergence of community as a tool used by brands to gain followers has been impossible to ignore. From social media to online forums, communities have become an essential part of brand marketing strategies. But why has this trend emerged, and what benefits can brands expect to gain from building communities around their products or services?

Defining Community

Firstly, it's worth exploring what we mean by "community" in a brand context. A community can be defined as a group of individuals who share common values, interests, or experiences. When brands tap into this sense of shared identity, they can create a powerful bond between themselves and their followers. By providing a space for fans to connect with each other and with the brand, communities can increase brand loyalty and create a sense of belonging that extends beyond the transactional relationship between buyer and seller.

Community Enters the Spotlight

One reason why communities have become so important for brands is the changing landscape of marketing. In the past, brands could rely on traditional advertising methods to reach their target audience. But with the rise of social media, consumers have become more discerning about the messages they receive. Brands must now offer more than just a product or service—they need to engage with consumers on a deeper level and provide value beyond the transaction.

This is where communities come in. By building a community around their brand, companies can create a space where fans can engage with each other and with the brand. When part of a community, consumers transform into members, significantly changing the relationship to the brand. This can take many forms, from social media groups, discord forums to events and meetups. By fostering a sense of shared community and identity, brands can create a loyal following of brand advocates.

The Value of Community-Led Growth

Several brands have discovered that community is too powerful a force to be introduced later in the customer journey. When it’s put front and center, community can be an acquisition channel, product feedback mechanism, and brand differentiator, not just a retention tactic.

In other words, come for the community and tool, stay for the community and tool.

By engaging with users on a deeper level, brands can gain valuable insights into their target audience. This can help inform future product development and marketing strategies, as well as improve customer service and support. Communities can also provide a platform for user-generated content, which can produce powerful organic social media.

Community has always existed in some form because humans are hard-wired to find their people and form groups. While trust in traditional institutions has declined, the desire to connect with others over shared interests or common pursuits lingers in the human psyche. A year spent in quarantine has probably only exacerbated our collective hunger for connection.

Of course, building a successful brand community is no easy feat. It requires a deep understanding of your target audience, a commitment to providing value beyond the transaction, and a willingness to listen and engage with fans. But for brands that are willing to put in the effort, the benefits can be significant.