The beauty of branded communities, when done well, is that they create a unique space for consumers to express their thoughts, exchange ideas and educate themselves about the brand’s products and services, in a conducive environment. Branded communities are not about creating a need for the product or perpetuating a “brand-to-consumer” like feeling. In fact, these communities focus more on what the consumers really want, irrespective of whether they endorse or buy the said brand’s products.
What is in it for brands? Branded communities can be potentially beneficial in a number of ways. These communities offer brands the opportunity to truly listen to the consumer and put to use, the valuable insights gained from these community conversations, to create their next marketing strategyor even new product development. 67% of the businesses today are using data from these communities to get new insights related to their products and services. Not to mention, when you truly listen to customers, it works wonders for your brand engagement and customer retention as well. Conversations on these branded communities also evoke a greater sense of trust for the brand and increases its credibility, making selling easier. Last but not the least, branded communities help reduce the customer support costs for the business – as many as 49% of businesses with online communities report 10% to 25% saving on costs, annually according to a report by Marketing Insider Group.
A new brand of online communities is sprouting up to offer people access to relevant, important information, in lieu of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. An online reading program has been launched in the Chinese city of Shanghai, where local medical workers having worked in Wuhan will share their tips on managing the epidemic and controlling it. In addition, there will also be artistic events around music and various themes, available to readers through website and mobile apps. A representative of the city’s publicity department has stated that what they hope to achieve through this program is to “break the isolation between people during the epidemic outbreak and promote a positive lifestyle through online reading and culture sharing”.
On the other hand, there’s Australian App, Nextdoor that has come up with a unique functionalityin response to the Covid-19 crisis. While the primary function of the App is to allow users to connect with their neighbours, it has devised an additional function through which not only can neighbours connect with one another, but also allows them to mark to themselves as “able to help” their neighbours. “It pre-populates a post which you can edit to say how you can help”! For example, I can buy your groceries and leave them at your door or I can order your medicines for you. We think the App deserves to be lauded for its efforts to not only bring people together as a community, but to truly be able to give back to each other in these times of crisis.
Building an online branded community undoubtedly takes a lot of time, effort and patience. However, once it is all set and good to go, it can offer a plethora of marketing opportunities and benefits. Perhaps, an online community could help your brand during these uncertain times. Don’t you think?