Businesses need to connect authentically with people. It’s been reported that some of the key drivers of business loyalty are likeability and trust, which are components of authentic connection. Take the ever-referenced brands, Disney and Coca-Cola. These brands have transformed in remarkable ways by utilizing the power of story in order to connect authentically.
We understand it’s important for all businesses to be able to connect authentically. But why?
By 2020, four billion people will be online. Communication is able to travel freely in this new world of internet and social connectivity. This allows for more and more people to have even more control over their lifestyle choices, including their brand purchasing decisions. It’s a concept that Forrester counts as the factor in what they call the “age of the customer”.
Why Brand Community Can Solve a Critical Business Problem
To “win the race,” you need to have your offline and online experiences for your customers locked down. These online experiences aren’t just limited to your website, your checkout process, or your SaaS onboarding—these online experiences are expanded to any way that your audience interacts with and through your brand.
Enter the brand community: a networked group of people orchestrated by the brand itself. This community is where the person is invited to become a part of and influence the brand story. Mass media is no longer the place to connect with your audience, as the one-to-many message is dying. The many-to-many messages inside of brand communities are the ones that are being received and acted upon. Here’s why.
1. 77 Percent Own a Smartphone
77 percent of Americans have a smartphone, says Pew. The internet used to be a place you had to seek out. Now, we have it in our pockets, and the internet has, for many, become seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives. We are becoming increasingly connected. If you think about it this way, 77 percent of Americans have the ability to broadcast messages to the world, instantly.
2. 97 Percent of Adults Use Social Media
97 percent of online adults regularly visit social networks. Also according to Global Web Index, social media captures up to 30 percent of an individual’s online time. On average, people are spending almost two hours per day on social networks and messaging. This is up from 15 minutes reported back in 2012.
A contributing factor to why people are spending more time on social is that more communities are being built on social platforms. Facebook Groups have one billion users, as reported by Tech Crunch. People are spending their time within these community spaces when they are online because they are craving communication between common connections.
3. One-Third of Internet Users Follow Brands on Social
One-third of internet users follow their favorite brands on social networks. These people are seeking out and electing to have branded content served to them. If 30 percent of their online time is spent on social, there’s a good chance you can catch your audience online in one of these social networks. But why is it so important to reach people and to be able to connect with them positively as a brand?
4. One Person Will Tell Nine to Sixteen Others
Americans have reported telling an average of nine people about good experiences. There are a ton of benefits that can come from having a brand community. One of those benefits is having space where people, customers, and prospective customers can connect and talk about their great experiences.
On the other hand, one person will tell 16 people about bad experiences. Communities help improve customer experience across the board because they connect siloed organizations, make businesses more responsive, and close feedback loops. A brand community may help prevent 16 people from hearing about a bad experience someone had with your business.
5. 90 Percent of Customers Are Affected by Online Reviews
As stated above, people like to tell other people about their experiences, whether good or bad. 90% state that positive online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. As buyers, we always want to make sure we are making a good decision, and look to others with a similar problem to validate this decision for us.
6. 27.3 Percent Use Brand Communities For Research
When researching buying a product, 27.3 percent of customers use an online community dedicated to the product or service. People are actively seeking out other people with similar opinions or problems. This 27.3 percent shows that people are beginning to learn that communities are a valid resource. This showcases the authenticity and trust that a community can bring to a brand.
7. 85 Percent of Marketers Believe in Community
According to CMX research from 2016, 85 percent of marketers and community builders believed that having a branded online community would improve the customer journey and increase trust. Of course, these are people that are already inclined towards community, but 85 percent is a large majority.
8. 66 Percent of Brand Communities Build Relationships
In the “2017 Community Value and Metrics Report”, 66 percent of brand communities claim that they define their brand community in their organization as relationship building. This means that members of these communities are developing friendships with each other, online or offline. As noted before, getting references from your fellow community members could be more impactful than getting references from your family or friends.
9. 44 Percent Don’t Define Community with Metrics
Recently, CMX undertook a study of 533 community builders to find out how they were utilizing metrics. They discovered that 44 percent of brand community builders do not define a brand community in their organization as having measurable goals and objectives. If you think about it, that means half of your competitors are not taking brand community building seriously.
These community builders might not understand exactly how to set goals or measure. By not being able to measure, they won’t be able to scale their success or even understand where that success is coming from (if they are having any at all).
Half your competitors are not taking brand community building seriously.
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Community Needs Structure to Have a Positive ROI
We discovered many interesting things during our research. One of the most impactful was this: There is a correlation between the revenue of a business and the confidence a community builder has in their community metrics. We found that their confidence goes up steadily by company revenue bucket. Companies in the “over $10 billion” range were a full point higher in confidence than those in the $250 thousand to 500 thousand range.
If you can strategize around the way your company interacts with your audience, you will be able to take advantage of the new way that they are demanding to be communicated with. Brand communities are the future. Are you ready?
Learn more about how to build a community strategy and how to measure the success in the “2017 Community Value and Metrics Report” here.
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