Once upon a time it was member associations and industry bodies that owned the ‘community’ space when it came to thought leadership. Today, developing a community of advocates is the height of marketing strategy, most commonly through social media. But having a lot of followers, doesn’t necessarily translate to having a lot of customers. So how do you bridge the gap?
Lessons from the stars
Are you a Belieber? Perhaps you’re more of a Swiftie, a Sheerio, or a Potterhead. Maybe you’re a bit of all four. Celebrities, YouTubers and Instagram stars have been naturally leading the way in building communities of followers who form an active community of people who believe in that artist. They use social media to communicate, learn from each other and share information on the thing they love to the point of developing self-appointed collective nicknames.
It’s a phenomenon that many brands have sought to replicate and weaponise, often with great success. Some have done so very literally, piggy backing off celebrity fandom with strategic partnerships in a new wave of celebrity endorsement – nothing new there.
Others have built successful businesses by creating a community first. Fitness fans, for example, will know of Australian personal trainer Kayla Itsines. Her Sweat app and personal fitness empire hinges on a supportive community of 11.6 million (largely) female followers and counting, whom she successfully rallies on Instagram to the tune of a tidy estimated $46 million empire.
More than followers
Cultivating engaged communities is a marketing strategy you can see it happening in every vertical sector. It seeks to turn followers into fans, fans into a community and from that generating growth using tools such as Facebook groups, forums, portals and content. It isn’t just a question of having followers on social media however.
We’ve long seen brands trying to find ways to boost their social media following, and we’re now in an era where we know it’s got to be about more than ‘buying’ their love through promotions, competitions and the rest. Now we’re all accepting that there’s more to it – there’s got to be a connection, honed through integrity as well as consistency.
How gigCMO can help
This is very much a space that Fractional CMO, David Mallinder is familiar with. An expert in engagement and community apps, his knowledge of marketing technology and experience working with global communities in non profits, professional communities and associations has placed him at the heart of the growth of this method of marketing.
David says: The power of the community is very much recognised across marketing spheres now, but how you turn followers into engaged communities is about time and investment. It means having a clear message, a well thought out plan, and a clean customer journey as well as messages that customers can really engage with on a meaningful level. Having a lot of followers isn’t enough to turn them into brand advocates, and that’s where a clear marketing strategy, with careful attention to marketing technology, can really make a difference.
So, how do you turn an audience into a community, and how to do you then weaponise that community to build your business? Those are the questions gigCMO can help you answer.