Any successful global brand mastered one thing – building communities around their brand. As an entrepreneur, if you cannot build communities around your brand making it big might be problematic. Building communities goes beyond just the generic advertising of your brand. Remember mere advertising is unidirectional and nowadays that is not enough. Thus you must cultivate a platform that people can relate to and want to be associated with. That is what I shall be discussing in this article so that you adopt it for your own enterprise. Where applicable I will cite practical examples so that you grasp them.

Why The Building Communities Matters Now

What does having a community around your brand or business even mean? Well, it is a group of customers whose association with your brand is more than just about what you are selling. You must appreciate and understand the shifts in the business world. People no longer just buy stuff because it works; they now consider much more than that. Most customers are now more value-oriented than ever before. This means they now settle for brands whose values and principles align with theirs. They now prefer human-centred brands, brands that have a personalized relationship with their customers.

Digitalization has created global connections but they have been largely transactional and impersonal. Brands that are going to stand out will invest time and money into creating authentic human experiences beyond the digital veil. People now gravitate towards brands that stand for something or are pursuing a worthy cause. People no longer want to just buy stuff they want more than that. They want to know they are part of some noble cause and they can also contribute to it.

How Can You Build Communities Around Your Brand?

You must, before everything else, know that this is a long haul venture. It is just like starting, developing and nurturing any relationship; it takes quite some time and effort. Do not give yourself unreasonable expectations of thinking it will take a short time. Whenever you want to change or improve yourself you are always told that you must start from within. Essentially you have to work from the inside and the results will show on the outside.

The same goes for building communities around your brand. Start with your staff, employees, management and so on. The sense of community you want to build must first off be created amongst your business team. You can only best teach or cultivate what you practise. The easiest entry point is always pursuing some social responsibility.

There are so many vices in society that people grapple with. If you come out as a brand that champions a cause that addresses those social vices then building a community around your brand becomes easy. The other strategy is to involve your customers brainstorming, decision-making and rollouts. (I will give examples in few moments to buttress all these points).

The other focus is to develop, curate, and propagate relevant and engaging content. This is the type of content that people will find useful and cannot do without. You must also cultivate an engaging social media presence. Have online platforms where you have engaging conversations with customers. It must go beyond just that to also facilitate conversations amongst the customers themselves. These are some of the core strategies you can use to build communities around your brand.

Some Practical Examples To Learn From

Startupbiz Zimbabwe

I do not mean to be biassed but you can learn something from this example. Startupbiz Zimbabwe has managed to build communities especially through the use of WhatsApp groups. Today the WhatsApp network has over 8000 people. This community is brought together by the pursuit of all things business and finance in Zimbabwe and beyond. Startups, businesses, partnerships, strategic alliances have been forged as a result of this community. Social causes such as philanthropy have emerged as a result of this community. The net worth of the economy this community has unlocked and continues to unlock is unquantifiable. Not forgetting the vast network of people on social media platforms. You can use this same model for your business. Never underestimate the power of simple WhatsApp groups in building communities.

Nash Paints

Nash Paints has done and is still doing some witty initiatives that build communities around the Nash Paints brand. Nash Paints has become so instrumental in music content creation in Zimbabwe. Their Nash TV appendage now commands a huge community with over 300000 followers on Facebook. They have essentially built a community stemming from supporting local Zimbabwean music production. This has pushed and established the Nash Paints brand in unprecedented ways – something you might not notice because you are too busy enjoying the music. The impact is even hard to gauge its worth. For instance, some local artists have been empowered to a point where they have given back to the community. The whole community or movement has ignited a perpetual chain reaction of benefits.

Other Global Examples

We also have global examples such as Apple and Airbnb, amongst others. Apple has created a platform where Apple product users can share experiences and converse about anything. They have used their support services platform to go beyond and build a community. Airbnb has done more or less the same. This has fuelled the development of user-generated content. This even reminds me of the mobile phone brand Infinix. I recently got an Infinix Note 7 phone and was amazed to find out they have a social media site called XClub – it is all about building communities.

From now on prioritize building communities around your brand. People now have a heightened need to have a sense of belonging when interacting with a brand. Once that is satisfied, customer loyalty, positive social proof, and referrals will become automatic. At the end of the day, everyone wins which is the whole idea behind having a community behind your brand.