Marketers recognize the substantial potential in nurturing a social media community. Strengthening connections among both potential and existing customers can ignite brand loyalty and enhance brand visibility. Also, the satisfaction of uniting individuals who share a common purpose should not be underestimated.
The question now arises: How can marketers achieve this?
Leveraging the power of social media stands out as one of the most effective means of building a community around a brand. This is especially evident given the staggering 4.9 billion social media users worldwide, constituting 60.49% of the global population. This number underscores the immense potential of social media for creating thriving brand communities.
In this article, we’ll explore what a social media community is, its types, strategies for organizations to establish it, and the benefits it offers in cultivating a loyal and engaged audience. So, without further delay, let’s dive right in.
What is a social media community & why does it matter?
Social media communities are groups of people who come together on various social media platforms to share common interests, engage in discussions, and build relationships. Social media communities consist of individuals who develop a solid connection to your brand, ultimately transforming into enthusiastic advocates for it.
This is crucial because their endorsement and word-of-mouth recommendations can increase brand visibility trust, and, ultimately, a boost in customer engagement and loyalty.
Related Read: How To Build a Facebook Community for SAAS Business?
Take, for instance, GoPro, which has amassed more than 20 million followers on Instagram. The brand has nurtured this following by sharing its customers’ GoPro shots and tagging them, making user-generated content a central part of its social media strategy.
GoPro positions itself as a camera for “creators” and demonstrates this commitment through its drive to share user-generated content. This approach not only fosters a sense of belonging within the community but also generates authentic, user-created marketing collaterals that significantly reduce the cost of their marketing efforts.
Building a social media community, like the one cultivated by GoPro, is vital in today’s digital landscape. They can empower your brand to reach new heights by leveraging the advocacy and engagement of a dedicated and connected customer base.
What are the different types of social media communities?
Now, let’s explore different types of social media communities. Each type has its own unique characteristics and functions.
Brand communities are formed around a particular brand or product. They consist of loyal customers, enthusiasts, and advocates who share their experiences, reviews, and feedback about the brand’s products or services.
Members of brand communities often develop a strong sense of brand loyalty and are actively engaged in promoting and defending the brand. These communities provide a platform for the brand to connect with its customers, gather feedback, and build a dedicated customer base.
A notable example is Duolingo’s TikTok presence, with 8.1 million followers, which has created a vibrant community of language learners and enthusiasts. The brand uses TikTok to engage its audience by staying current with trending hashtags, sound effects, and music, maintaining a specific brand voice in its videos.
Support communities are created to offer assistance and solutions to individuals facing specific challenges or seeking help with particular issues. These can be related to health conditions, technical problems, personal issues, or any other subject. Members of support communities share their experiences, advice, and emotional support, creating a safe and empathetic space for those in need.
A prime example is Headspace’s social media account, with 1.3 million followers, which serves as a support community for mental health and well-being. The account’s mission is to improve the health and happiness of its followers. It regularly shares tips and tools for dealing with mental health problems and encourages open conversations under each post, ensuring that followers feel heard and supported.
Hobby & interest communities
Hobby and interest communities unite people with a shared passion or interest, such as photography, gardening, gaming, or cooking. Members use social media platforms to discuss their hobbies, share tips, showcase their work, and connect with others with similar interests. These communities provide a space for enthusiasts to learn, collaborate, and be inspired by like-minded individuals.
An example is The Happy Gardening Life on Instagram, with up to 350 thousand followers, where gardeners come together to share their gardening experiences, tips, and inspiration, creating a space for gardening enthusiasts to connect and learn from one another.
Professional & industry communities
Professional and industry communities are created to connect individuals within specific fields, such as marketing, technology, healthcare, or finance. These communities facilitate networking, knowledge sharing, and career development. Members often discuss industry trends, share best practices, seek job opportunities, and exchange insights.
A notable example is Social Media Today on LinkedIn, with 100 thousand followers, which serves as a professional and industry community in marketing, social business, communication, and digital strategy. It connects professionals and thought leaders in these fields by sharing news, trends, and best practices.
Geographic and local communities
Geographic and local communities are centered around a specific geographic area, such as a city, neighborhood, or region. Members of these communities often use social media to discuss local events, news, and issues. They can also facilitate local networking and provide a platform for residents to share recommendations for restaurants, services, and other local businesses. Local community groups can be especially beneficial for newcomers to an area or those looking to connect with others nearby.
An example of this is Nextdoor, a social media platform that connects neighbors and local communities, allowing users to discuss local events, business recommendations, and safety alerts, fostering a sense of community at the local level.
How to build a social media community?
In today’s fast-paced world of social media, it often feels like a never-ending pursuit for likes, reach, and engagement. However, let’s remember the original purpose of social media.
Connecting with others, finding like-minded individuals, and creating community on social media. Here’s a little secret: successful brands on social media focus less on numbers and more on building vibrant communities.
If you’re eager to bring back meaning to your brand’s social media presence, you’re in luck. Below are some effective strategies to help you cultivate a thriving community and foster unwavering brand loyalty.
i. Engage actively:
Your audience craves recognition. Whether it’s a brand or a favorite influencer, your followers want to know that their interactions matter. Respond to comments promptly, engage via direct messages, and show appreciation for tagged content. Making your followers feel heard and valued goes a long way in building a genuine connection.
Coca-Cola, a global giant, sets a prime example of active social media engagement. With the help of a robust social media monitoring strategy, they respond promptly to brand mentions and hashtags, valuing every interaction. This proactive approach, even for established brands, builds genuine connections and underscores the importance of engaging with your audience.
ii. Post with purpose:
People don’t follow brands solely for product promotions. Consider the value you can offer beyond your products. Share content that resonates with your audience, provides valuable insights and improves their daily lives. Meaningful and relatable content has a more profound impact on community building than endless promotional posts.
An example of this is Nike’s social media strategy. With a vast following on Instagram and Facebook, they excel at engaging their audience. They don’t just promote products; they put their consumers in the spotlight by showcasing athletes and cultures worldwide, making their audience the heroes of their stories. This approach emphasizes the value of meaningful, relatable content over constant promotions for effective community building.
iii. Live Q & A sessions:
Host live question-and-answer sessions in your stories. Whether it’s the founder or your marketing manager, giving followers a chance to have their questions answered in real-time fosters a stronger bond with your brand. It not only deepens the connection but also addresses common queries publicly.
A prime example of this is The Mullings Group. Their CEO conducted a live Q&A session where he shared insights about transitioning from a small to a large company. Such live sessions, whether led by the founder or team members, provide a valuable opportunity for followers to have their questions answered in real time. This approach strengthens the brand’s connection with the audience and addresses common queries openly.
iv. Engage with like-minded brands:
Building a community extends beyond your profile. Engage meaningfully with similar or like-minded brands whose values align with yours. This collaborative approach can expand your community, opening doors for partnerships and mutual support.
An excellent example is Airbnb’s partnership with Flipboard. They co-created “Experiences” and, later, “Trips” to provide tailored lifestyle content for Airbnb users. This illustrates the impact of engaging with like-minded brands, expanding the community, and fostering partnerships that align with shared values to enhance the user experience.
v. Host meaningful giveaways
Show your appreciation with meaningful giveaways as a way to give back to your loyal supporters. Whether celebrating a successful product launch, marking a holiday, or simply surprising your audience regularly, hosting giveaways is a simple yet effective gesture.
For instance, Chewy, known for its exceptional customer service, demonstrates the impact of hosting meaningful giveaways. They go the extra mile by creating personalized pet paintings and birthday treat packages, inspiring delight among customers and fostering long-term loyalty.
vi. Reshare user-generated content:
Embrace user-generated content by sharing it in your stories or static feed. Not only does this provide your brand with additional content at no cost, but it also makes your followers feel recognized and appreciated.
For example, La Croix’s social media strategy involves actively resharing user-generated content. Their feeds are adorned with fan art and photos of their target demographic enjoying their favorite flavors. This practice consistently maintains a branded look while making their followers feel recognized and appreciated, exemplifying the value of resharing user-generated content.
By following these strategies, you can harness the true potential of social media as a platform for community building, fostering deep connections, and cultivating brand loyalty.
15 benefits of creating social media communities in 2024
In 2024, social media communities have become more pivotal than ever for businesses and individuals alike. These vibrant digital spaces offer a multitude of advantages that extend beyond mere networking. Let’s delve into the 15 benefits these communities can bring in 2024.
1. Reducing support costs
Social media platforms provide a unique avenue for companies to revamp customer support while simultaneously cutting support costs. If you build a social media community, the responsibility of providing support is not shouldered solely by the company; community members actively participate in the support process.
The members of the social media community share their experiences, offer advice, and address questions, effectively becoming a team of dedicated social media customer support representatives who offer their expertise voluntarily.
This collaborative environment not only lightens the load on the support team but also enables them to focus on more complex issues. According to Marketing Insider Group, nearly 49% of businesses with online communities achieve annual cost savings ranging from 10% to 25%.
For example, Sephora, a beauty industry leader with 21.4 million Instagram followers, effectively utilizes its online community, Beauty Talk. Users in this community answer each other’s beauty-related queries, reducing support costs while also increasing sales and fostering new contacts through valuable content sharing.
2. Increased engagement and brand exposure
Building a social media community isn’t just about broadcasting your message; it’s about fostering a dynamic two-way conversation. It’s a space where your audience actively interacts, acting as fuel for your brand’s visibility.
When your community members like, comment, and share your content, it creates a ripple effect. Their actions introduce your brand to their networks, expanding your reach. Suddenly, your carefully crafted posts gain momentum, and the online world revolves around your brand.
However, it’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the authentic connections formed. Engaged community members become active participants, sharing experiences, asking questions, and providing feedback. This builds trust and authenticity, making your brand relatable and trustworthy in your audience’s eyes.
A tangible example is Traditional Medicinals, an herbal tea brand that offers an online platform for wellness enthusiasts through its Plant Power Journal. Community members share DIY tips, recipes, and herbal wisdom, and the website encourages tea reviews and online feedback, boosting brand visibility and engagement.
3. Enhanced collaborative opportunities
Oracle’s “Socially Driven Collaboration” report underlines that 96% of companies recognize the value of customer collaboration for their marketing efforts. Collaborating with individuals who have complementary skills or shared interests unlocks exciting collaborative possibilities. You can partner on projects, pool resources, and tap into your community’s collective wisdom, driving the growing trend of social platform community formation.
Effectively structured communities allow you to engage members for co-creation and harness crowdsourced efforts toward common goals. This collaboration yields innovative solutions and accelerates the achievement of your brand’s objectives.
A notable example is the SaaS Alliance, an exclusive Slack community with over 1,000 SaaS founders, providing a 24/7 space for customers, suppliers, and employees to exchange ideas and collaborate on various SaaS-related topics like onboarding, remote work culture, sales tracking apps, and marketing automation.
4. Nurtures brand loyalty
Brand loyalty isn’t a cliché; it’s a crucial and substantial benefit. Consider this: we all have limited hours in a day. If a customer engages with your community, it’s a privilege. Among countless options, their choice signals you’re on the right track. It means they feel part of something larger than a transactional relationship.
This achievement is vital in a competitive market. Starting now can attract enthusiastic members who share your values. People crave meaningful conversations. If your community offers the support and content they seek, you’ll soar. In a study conducted by CMX Media and Leaders Network, 85% of marketers believe a branded community enhances the customer journey and builds trust.
Gymshark, a fitness apparel brand with 6 million Instagram followers, excels at fostering brand loyalty. They engage with fans through carefully selected athletes and influencers who embody the brand’s purpose. Their blog provides a treasure trove of tips, tutorials, and exercises for fitness enthusiasts.
5. Builds real connections
Creating a community brings together people with shared interests, passions, or experiences, akin to finding your tribe in the digital wilderness.
These connections run deep, involving meaningful engagements, shared experiences, and a sense of belonging. It’s like having a virtual support system or a group of friends who truly understand you. It’s a space for authenticity and mutual understanding.
These genuine connections humanize your brand, establishing relatability and trustworthiness. Community members become your most ardent advocates, spreading the word about your brand. Moreover, it leads to valuable insights and feedback.
PlayStation Plus hosts a massive community of elite gamers, including eSports enthusiasts and leading influencers. This advocate community fosters connections by providing a platform for sharing tips, scheduling online play sessions, and more.
6. Reduce marketing expenses
Social media communities provide a cost-effective avenue for brands to engage with their audience while cutting advertising expenses.
Brands with active communities can reduce their social media advertising budget as they interact with customers in their dedicated spaces at no extra cost.
Moreover, by encouraging user-generated content, companies can further diminish marketing costs. This strategy not only boosts engagement but harnesses the power of authentic word-of-mouth advertising. It lessens the dependency on expensive traditional marketing, as satisfied customers become brand advocates who organically extend the brand’s reach.
Glossier, a prominent beauty brand, exemplifies this approach by promoting customer engagement through selfie-sharing. Their use of user-generated content, such as the #maskforce campaign, significantly reduces the need for conventional marketing, making the brand more authentic and relatable.
7. Provides consumer insights
Highly effective communities are thoughtfully crafted to ignite meaningful conversations. You can fully leverage these dialogues by monitoring recurring grievances, suggestions, and innovative product applications for issue-solving.
It’s crucial to inform your community when you implement changes inspired by their input. Demonstrating that you’re attentive and genuinely value their recommendations fosters a stronger connection with your audience.
An example of this is The Steam subreddit (r/Steam), which is a vibrant community where gamers discuss their experiences and offer feedback on the Steam platform. Users share opinions, report bugs, and suggest improvements. Steam representatives actively engage, addressing user feedback and implementing changes based on suggestions. This interaction builds trust and a partnership between Steam and its user base.
8. Lead generation and member acquisition
Building a social media community has emerged as a potent lead generation tool. These communities serve as magnetic hubs for like-minded individuals genuinely interested in their offerings, facilitating organic lead generation.
Fostering meaningful conversations and sharing user-generated content naturally attracts new members who resonate with the brand. Their heightened engagement and receptiveness increase the likelihood of conversion into leads. Moreover, online communities often achieve higher search visibility, further enhancing lead acquisition.
An exemplary instance is the Airbnb, host community. This community is designed for individuals who want to become hosts on the platform or who are already active hosts. Members discuss various aspects of hosting, share their experiences, ask questions, and provide insights into maximizing the potential of their Airbnb listings and getting more leads.
9. Promoting diversity and global reach
The power of diversity and global outreach through online communities is truly remarkable. These virtual spaces unite people from various walks of life, transcending geographical boundaries. The richness of cultures, perspectives, and experiences that converge in diverse online communities broadens horizons and fuels innovation.
A prime example is the Sabin Vaccine Institute and its “Boost” community, uniting experts across borders to address pressing vaccine challenges. Operating at national and sub-national levels, Boost enhances diversity, particularly in Asia and Africa, facilitating meaningful global conversations and exchanging ideas and perspectives.
10. Enhancing customer lifetime value (CLV)
In today’s landscape with increasing customer acquisition costs, focusing on extending Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is paramount. A social media community offers a pivotal advantage in this regard, helping to combat customer churn often likened to a “leaky bucket.”
Your community houses a devoted, emotionally connected audience that already cherishes your brand. By continually engaging them, providing exclusive benefits, and delivering outstanding experiences, you secure their loyalty, turning them into repeat customers. This approach significantly elevates their lifetime value, easing the pressure for constant new customer acquisition.
A real-world illustration is Netflix’s understanding of customer impatience. They added a feature for instant streaming of movies to keep customers engaged with the help of the feedback they got from their Netflix community. As a result, they have achieved an impressive $291.25 customer lifetime value and a low 4% churn rate, illustrating the power of CLV enhancement through community building.
11. Accelerates product innovation
Social media communities offer a fast track to innovation. Companies, by actively engaging with their community members, tap into a wellspring of insights that drive product innovation. These communities become valuable sounding boards, allowing companies to understand user preferences better, identify unmet needs, and uncover ingenious ideas for enhancing their offerings. One stellar illustration of this phenomenon is Lego Ideas.
Lego Ideas is a remarkable platform that bridges the gap between the company and its ardent enthusiasts. Here, community members are encouraged to submit their creative ideas for new Lego sets. What’s truly captivating is that their peers can support these ideas through votes. If an idea garners sufficient community support, it enters an official review phase by Lego. If it passes muster, it transforms from a fan-generated concept into a bona fide Lego product.
This approach seamlessly blends customer co-creation with innovation, showcasing how social media communities accelerate product development, delivering precisely what customers desire.
12. Enhances brand reputation
Social media communities serve as powerful stages for brands to bolster their brand reputation by showcasing their commitment to social responsibility and ethical practices. A prominent example of this is Toms Shoes, which has nurtured a thriving online community mirroring its “One for One” mission. Community members admire and resonate with the brand’s philanthropic promise to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.
By actively engaging with its community, Toms not only fosters brand loyalty but also magnifies its reputation as a socially responsible enterprise. The brand’s commitment to making a positive impact on a global scale resonates within the community and beyond, adding to its appeal. Toms’ strategy exemplifies how social media communities enable brands to align themselves with meaningful causes, enhancing their image and cultivating an engaged and socially conscious customer base.
13. Boosts employee advocacy
Companies can harness social media communities to transform their employees into brand advocates, fortifying their brand image.
Adobe’s Insider community stands out as an exemplary case, where employees actively participate in sharing their expertise, solidifying their thought leadership, and assisting customers. This dual role not only bolsters Adobe’s brand image by showcasing its team’s competence and dedication but also empowers its employees.
By engaging with customers in a supportive and informative manner, Adobe’s employees become influential voices within the community. This strategy not only promotes brand loyalty and customer satisfaction but also boosts the morale and commitment of Adobe’s workforce. It exemplifies the capacity of social media communities to leverage employees’ expertise and transform them into dedicated advocates, thereby enriching the brand’s image and employee engagement.
14. Supports crisis management
Social media communities are vital tools for effective crisis management. In times of brand crises, having an active community can be a game-changer. These communities facilitate the rapid dissemination of accurate information, address customer concerns, and exemplify transparency.
For instance, Airbnb’s community plays a pivotal role in addressing safety concerns nurturing trust and confidence even in challenging circumstances. By promptly addressing issues and sharing information within the community, Airbnb demonstrates its commitment to customer safety, which not only helps manage crises effectively but also reinforces the brand’s credibility and commitment to its members. This exemplifies the value of social media communities in times of adversity.
15. Facilitates affiliate marketing
Social media communities offer an excellent avenue for affiliate marketing initiatives. Brands can tap into the collective influence of their community members by encouraging them to promote products or services.
Airbnb, for instance, runs an Ambassador Program that motivates community members to refer new hosts or guests. This referral system not only engages the community but also fuels brand growth by expanding its customer base. It’s a win-win strategy, as community members are rewarded for their referrals and the brand benefits from organic and enthusiastic promotion through a network of trusted advocates. Such affiliate marketing within social media communities can be a powerful driver of brand success.
Successful social media community examples
No matter the industry, businesses can reap the benefits of building thriving online communities. Top brands have mastered the art of online community building, and here are some notable examples:
The LEGO Company has masterfully cultivated a thriving social media community that revolves around the passion and dedication of its fans. They’ve employed a strategic approach tailored to the diverse demographics of their audience to create an engaged online community.
User-generated content is the cornerstone of LEGO’s community building. LEGO Ideas, an online platform, encourages fans to submit their original ideas for LEGO sets, with the chance for their creations to become official LEGO products. The community actively participates by voting on their favorite pictures, and LEGO reviews those with sufficient support for potential production. This initiative fosters a sense of ownership and collaboration within the community.
LEGO has harnessed the power of various social media platforms to maintain a solid online presence. Recognizing that different platforms attract distinct audiences, LEGO carefully tailors its content to match each platform’s expectations. This approach is taken even further on platforms like Twitter, where LEGO maintains multiple accounts dedicated to specific areas of the brand. For example, they use @LEGO_Group for major announcements and news, but they also have specialized accounts like @LEGOBatmanMovie and @LEGOMarvelGame.
With millions of followers on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, LEGO has created a dedicated online following through regular updates, behind-the-scenes content, and fan-generated creations.
Nike has cultivated a strong social media community centered around sports, fitness, and its product line.
Their approach includes dedicated accounts for various sports categories like Nike Football, Nike Basketball, and Nike Running, which enables them to cater to specific interests and engage with fans more effectively. Through these channels, Nike shares inspiring content, athlete stories, product launches, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.
Nike has also initiated impactful hashtag campaigns, such as #justdoit, #nikefuel, and #nikefit, to encourage user-generated content and community engagement. These campaigns not only generate excitement but also foster a sense of togetherness among Nike enthusiasts.
Starbucks, a globally recognized coffee chain, has established a robust and engaged online community rooted in its coffee culture, brand values, and commitment to customer experience.
Starbucks thrives on its customers sharing their coffee experiences on social media. Through the use of hashtags like #Starbucks, #StarbucksCoffee, and #MyStarbucksExperience, Starbucks leverages user-generated content (UGC) on its official accounts to highlight customer stories, unique beverage creations, and coffee art. UGC campaigns and tagging are instrumental in encouraging customer engagement, and Starbucks’ visually appealing products are perfectly suited for such endeavors. By showcasing customer contributions, Starbucks fosters a sense of community and encourages customers to interact with the brand.
Starbucks goes beyond sharing user-generated content; they also reveal the behind-the-scenes aspects of their coffee brand. They emphasize sustainability initiatives, community engagement, employee stories, and charitable partnerships. By showcasing the human side of the brand and underscoring its commitment to social responsibility, Starbucks establishes a vital emotional connection with its community.
Periodically, Starbucks hosts interactive contests and challenges on its social media platforms. These fun initiatives invite customers to participate, express their creativity, and connect with the Starbucks brand. From captivating photo contests to engaging caption challenges and delightful cup customization and latte art competitions, Starbucks cultivates a vibrant sense of community and encourages friendly competition among its loyal enthusiasts.
Sephora has skillfully nurtured an enthralling and interactive social media community centered around beauty, cosmetics, and the celebration of self-expression.
Sephora actively encourages customers to share their beauty looks, product reviews, and makeup transformations on various social media platforms, using hashtags like #Sephora, #SephoraHaul, and #BeautyCommunity. The brand frequently highlights user-generated content on its official accounts, showcasing the creativity and unique styles of its customers.
Sephora regularly hosts live-streaming events and tutorials on their YouTube channel, Sephora TV. These sessions feature beauty experts, makeup artists, and brand representatives who showcase new products, provide tips, and demonstrate application techniques. Viewers actively participate in real-time by asking questions, posting comments, and receiving personalized advice. These interactive sessions foster engagement and enable the community to connect with Sephora’s experts.
Glow Recipe, a skincare brand, has established an entire social media community devoted to “celebrating diverse beauty through self-care and self-expression.” This vibrant community is known as the “Glow Gang,” and its creation offers valuable insights into how to build a thriving social media community.
Glow Gang members have the privilege of testing products before they are officially launched. This exclusive opportunity makes members feel valued and engaged. The brand extends invitations to community members for special events. This not only fosters a sense of belonging but also encourages participation. Members are rewarded with exclusive merchandise and complimentary products. This tangible appreciation reinforces their connection with the brand.
In return for these perks, Glow Recipe encourages its Glow Gang members to write product reviews and actively engage in the comments. They even maintain a separate Instagram account exclusively for the Gang. This two-way interaction not only builds a passionate and dedicated community but also positively impacts product sales.
Establishing a social media community transforms ordinary transactions into profound connections. It creates a space for customers to share, learn, collaborate, and voice their opinions. However, building such a community is a challenging task; it demands a clear goal, a well-crafted strategy, and a willingness to initiate and sustain engaging conversations.
By embarking on this journey, you unlock the potential for genuine, lasting relationships that can drive growth, foster innovation, and enrich the collective experiences of both your brand and your community members.
Frequently asked questions
What is the role of social media in community?
Social media plays a pivotal role in fostering and connecting communities. It facilitates communication, sharing of information, and building relationships among individuals who share common interests, goals, or locations. It provides a platform for discussions, support, and collaboration, enhancing community engagement and interaction.
How do I start a social media community?
To start a social media community, identify your target audience and shared interests, choose a suitable platform, and create a dedicated group, page, or forum. Encourage engagement by sharing relevant content, facilitating discussions, and maintaining a consistent and welcoming environment. Building a community requires patience and authenticity in nurturing relationships among members.
What is the benefit of social media community?
The primary benefit of creating community on social media is the creation of a dedicated space where like-minded individuals can connect, share experiences, and build relationships. These communities foster engagement, trust, and loyalty among members, which can lead to increased brand awareness, customer support, lead generation, and knowledge sharing.