Community relations are imperative for the growth of an organization. When a business has a community around it where the members get value, the community becomes a vital place every business should work to build. This approach to community-building makes sure that the community stays healthy and vibrant, provides value to the business, enhances brand credibility, and catalyzes the company’s growth. By 2020, a whopping 4 billion people will access the Internet from around the globe. Imagine the asset a community could become when such wide audience is available for interactions and discussions.
Competitiveness in business and the social pressures surrounding business operations are bringing a paradigm shift in the way communities are perceived and managed. Organizations are making their communities the core of their business strategies while leveraging effective content strategies to propel them.
Today more than ever, large corporations throughout the world seek to make a social investment strategy to establish a coherent and consistent brand image and market presence across the globe. For example, Gap Inc. recently renamed its contributions program from Gap Foundation to Gap Community Relations. A spokesperson from the company revealed that they were since long trying to find the intersection between the organization and its community, and at last, they found it and leveraged it.
Is It Easy To Build Community Trust?
It is a relatively tricky strategy, building trust in a community. While many businesses have their primary focus on marketing and selling their services and products to their prospects in the community, they also need to build a lasting relationship with their community members.
It is well said that relationships require efforts from both ends. While brands provide valuable content to their community members, the members strive to keep the place buzzing and alive. Trick number one is to give the members what they are there for. If a community’s members only receive cold calls from the business’ end selling services and products, they will realize sooner or later that the place does not belong to them.
However, with the right balance of valuable information and marketing content, a business can strike the chord of building a winning community strategy. Executives and the top management in any organization are working towards blurring the line that demarcates a community strategy from a business strategy.
Today, about 97 percent of adults around the world regularly visit social media, and an average individual spends about 30% of his time on social networks. With this widespread use of the social media channels, it has become feasible to build a global community.
Community building is more about the trust and authenticity of any brand, rather than about its services and products today. Once a business establishes a brand reputation of a company that delivers value time and again, its community members will stick by its side and help the brand convert more leads into profits.
Content That Boosts Community
Content lies at the heart of any community strategy. The most successful community leaders will vouch for this fact- Content is the king, everywhere!
About 33% of Internet users today follow their favorite brands on social media channels. So, what is the kind of content that would help a business build trust and loyalty in its community?
Mostly, any business needs to create the following types of content-
• Educational content around its niche – Educating the members of one’s community is the fastest way of providing them value- something that they will come back for. Communities that offer useful insights and data for free to their members are the ones who build trust
• User-generated content – To make the people a constant part of its community, a brand needs to hear them out. Collaborative content such as discussion threads, polls, and opinion-generating content work well to keep a community alive. Moreover, companies can get plenty of content ideas from what their members have to say
• Other businesses’ content – This is the key. If businesses share other people’s content within their community, the members realize the brand is not there only to sell itself. Content from other sources that seem valuable can be unhesitatingly shared in a community because it helps a business build trust and loyalty
• Marketing content – Finally, a business needs to do what it’s there for. Adding a bit of marketing content to the end of its content pieces can subtly place a brand there in the market. A decent call to action can do the job here.
The “Where” of the Community Strategy
Most businesses confuse themselves when deciding on the platform of choice for their community strategy. While people choose Facebook as a given, it would pay off to conduct some ground research into your target audiences first.
Businesses would want to see where their prospects and clients like to collaborate and socialize. It has been studied that when looking for buying a product, about 28% of people research brand communities before deciding on their purchase. So, when the community builders are done selecting one or two social media platforms, it is advisable to put out content in various formats- videos, pictures, infographics, e-books, newsletters, blogs, etc.
Also, putting up the same content with minor tweaks across content formats is not frowned upon, as opposed to the notion. Since the customers are different, they would like to consume content based on their preferences.
Businesses should make sure they provide members with variety and choices.
Is the ROI calculable?
Sure, it is. With a consistent approach to community building, businesses see their growth skyrocket and their leads increase by the day. An engaging community is hard to build, but once the job is done, it is worth every penny and second put in.