How to Build a Community Around Your Brand as a Creator
If you are looking for better ways to strengthen your relationship with customers and have real-time insights and conversations, consider building a community around your brand.
A community is made up of your most loyal customers, a team of like-minded individuals who have used your product/service consistently and have now become loyal to your brand. It is a huge growth from building regular audiences to building long-lasting relationships.
Down the line, these relationships increase your chances of recurrent sales, word-of-mouth marketing (which is the best form of marketing), customer lifetime value, and customer loyalty.
In this article, we’d discuss actionable strategies to enable you to build a community around your brand and enjoy its endless benefits as a digital creator.
But first, what makes a community very different from an audience you are used to?
Audience vs Community: What’s the Difference For Your Brand?
“Audience” and “Community” are common words used interchangeably amongst creators. While for some, it is the number of people engaging with your content online, for others, it is the number of people willing to engage with you as a person.
Having an audience is important. It is your first proof as a creator that people outside your family and friends want your knowledge. However, a community scales the need.
Both your audience and community comprise a group of people interested in what you’re doing or the solution your product/service brings.
However, the key difference is in communication. For an audience, you have to consistently speak to them, sharing valuable content that piques their interest. But for a community, you don’t have to do all the speaking and talking. They interact with you and everyone shares ideas together.
Here are common differences between a community and an audience.
#1. You work to grow an audience; a community grows on its own
An audience is a group of people attracted by your content and who stay with you because of the solutions your product/services offer. There’s no relationship. Just a group of people being with you for the sole purpose of what you have to offer.
You can refer to an audience as your number of followers, subscribers, viewers, etc. Generally, an audience is identified by its size and/or quantity. Hence, the need to consistently put out content as a way to increase the size of your audience and grow.
A community, on the other hand, has grown beyond just sticking around for the purpose of what they get, to believing in you and your brand. Their shared experiences from using your product/service bring them together in unity. They know each other and have become a resource for each other.
#2. Audiences have no relationship; community is built on trust
Audiences are looking for the best brands that offer the best solutions to a problem they have. They have very little attention to detail and engage with your brand for the benefit. Likewise, to you they are numbers.
That’s why you get worried when you put out content and it lacks engagement or it doesn’t reflect on the numbers.
You have to explain to the team lead and stakeholders. Mostly because for an audience, it’s a numbers game.
Community, on the other hand, is different. They’ve interacted with you severally and trust you because you’ve delivered on your promise over time.
Here’s how Salem King described it in his book, CommYOUnity,
“You came across a piece of content that talked about this book and the author claimed it would teach you how to build a community around your best life and you said to yourself “okay I trust this guy, I haven’t seen the book yet but I’ll give him my money.” That’s audacious if you ask me. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s because you trust me, or something about me and it was an easy decision for you to make. In the near future, you want your community members to be this confident in your ability to deliver because they know that your brand will keep its promise.”
To create trust, you have to consistently keep your promise over time. Give, give and give before you ask.
#3. Audiences are individuals; communities are together
Typically, an audience is a group of people listening to you. People who may have shown interest in your lead magnet, cohort course, mini-course, free webinar, or any other digital product you have to offer.
Their interest isn’t steady. It’s a personal race and everyone is there to get as much as they can from you.
Due to this fleeting interest, you have to continuously share valuable and high-quality content online to capture their attention. Include data from research if you must. Once received, off they go.
A community on the other hand operates less individually and more as a team, like the word “community.” Everyone works together to grow and maintain the community and manage the members.
Here’s another practical example from Salem King,
“I started to understand the power of community one time when I put up a post and asked in the caption “what’s bothering you?” I put up that post with a plan to offer as many solutions as possible once people started to comment. A few minutes later, seeing the comments I got overwhelmed and started to just regret like “God who sent me? What was I thinking? I can’t help these people.” Fast forward to another couple of minutes, people started to reply to each other in the comment section, and their replies were so much better and richer than anything I could have offered.”Commyounity
A community isn’t about you. You may act as the catalyst, bringing people together. But in reality, it’s a combination of everyone’s effort.
Benefits of Having a Community For Your Brand
Here are some key benefits of having a community;
- Community members are brand advocates. They can easily recommend your brand to others with solid results to back it up.
- New customers can connect with like-minded people and get real-time solutions to their problems.
- Increase in customer loyalty. Create a safe space for people and watch them become loyal to you.
- Enjoy more user-generated content to aid marketing efforts.
- First-hand insight into customer thought processes to aid new product features or updates.
How to Build a Community for your Brand – 8 Actionable Steps
Creating a solid community for your brand starts with you. Identifying who your ideal audience is and providing valuable products/services that cater to their needs.
If you’re looking to get past just building an audience, here are some actionable tips to build a long-lasting community for your brand.
#1. Be part of a community
Before you start, stop. To build a community, you have to first belong to one. Be part of a community and discover unique ways to be active and contribute. Help other members the best way you can. Be resourceful. Be the brand’s advocate.
A simple rule in life is to give before you can receive. When you contribute to the growth of others, people will naturally come through for you. In Salem King’s words, “Your community will form around impact, not just passion and good intentions.”
For example, notice how your favorite creators are all friends with other creators. So much that whenever there is an event, you can almost tell the creators you expect to see. When Salem King hosts an event, you can expect to see Blessin Abeng, Alma Asinobi, Bolaji Ajibare, etc. When Steve Harris hosts an event, you can expect to see TriciaBiz, Bankole Williams, Jimi Tewe, etc. It’s what happens when you’re part of a community before building yours.
#2. Identify your “why”
For you to create a community that’d serve its purpose, you need to identify your why. Your why is your reason for doing something. The purpose of your efforts that gives it a deeper meaning.
Answering questions like; Why do I want a community for my brand? What do I want to tell them? How can I create content relevant to my community? How can I build their trust? help you to have a clear objective for your community. Not only that, your success becomes measurable. Because you can identify what metrics are important to you and how you can achieve them.
For example, you’re not just creating a digital product because you want to make money. Of course, making money is important. But your “why” could be to help people by teaching them something they need to know to make their lives better. So every time you’re frustrated by customers or the economy, you remember why you started in the first place.
When you understand your “why” and are vocal about it, it’s easier for people to relate with you. Because then, your common “why” acts as a unifying factor.
#3. Add a personal touch
In building a community for your brand, you have to go beyond being a thought leader to sharing your personal experiences on your journey.
This is because people would always root for the underdog. So, document your journey as a creator, the challenges you have to deal with, and the strategies you’ve used to overcome them.
Misery loves company, as they say, can be good or bad. People want to know they are not the only ones suffering. And it’s easy for them to see themselves in you.
So instead of trying to show your expertise all the time, first show that you are human. Carry your audience along on your journey. That’s how you impact their lives so much that a community forms around your brand.
Salem, in his book, commYOUnity, perfectly describes adding a personal touch to your content in community building. He calls it the REMP framework. This stands for;
- R – Relatable. People need to be able to relate to your story.
- E – Easily applicable. Your story/content should be one that people can easily apply to get results.
- M – Memorable. The key to building a community is creating content that people can easily remember.
- P – Portable. The average user attention span is just 8 seconds. So make your content shorter. Don’t say in 10 minutes what can be said in 5 minutes.
#4. Focus on a niche
Michelle Phan, a digital creator and Youtuber says, “The beauty of the Internet is there’s a niche market for everything, and if you can focus on it, you can build a sustainable and viable business of it.”
One of the biggest problems you may face as a creator is the pressing desire to want to cater to everyone. Everyone isn’t your audience. In fact, if you are selling to everyone then you are selling to no one.
Oftentimes, you’ll find more fulfillment when you focus on a particular group of people and provide the best solution to their needs. But if you think focusing on a small group of people may inhibit your goals to be the world’s greatest (insert it) then this quote from Seth Godwin is for you,
“If you need to water down your story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.”
Tayo Aina, a digital creator, is known for his travel videos and vlogs online. He shares tips from countries and cities he visits and educates his audience on flight expenses. Which is what everyone is really interested in.
Oladimeji Ajegbile, on the other hand, is another Nigerian creator, popularly known for his content about podcasting, thriving in tech, productivity, and so much more.
These creators have shown that focusing on a niche is more profitable than trying to be everywhere at every time.
So, find a niche and discover ways you can be a top player in the industry.
#5. Share relevant content
“Content is King,” says Bill Gates. To lure people to your brand, you need content. To get people to be interested in you and build an audience, you need to share high-quality content.
Research to figure out content types your customers will enjoy. Create tons of helpful articles, tutorials, videos, and podcasts. Co-create content with influencers your customers love, and share actionable insights that produce results.
Encourage other members to share their opinions and perspectives about a topic to convince other people that you care about learning from others too.
Creating an environment where customers can find helpful, relevant, and high-value content will always keep them coming back for more.
#6. Find the right platform
Building a community around your brand also involves finding the right platform for your community.
You may decide to use a Facebook group, WhatsApp group, Slack, Email, etc. You may even choose to use other community platforms like Discord, Mighty Networks, etc.
Whichever platform you decide to use, ensure it is one that is easily accessible to you and your community members.
#7. Balance selling with valuable content
While the end goal of building an audience is to eventually monetize them, a community is entirely different.
A community has gone beyond being leads and customers, to becoming loyal paying customers. Hence, you don’t need to really convince them to buy.
If you have a new product, you can easily share it with your community and they’ll buy from you because they trust your promises.
Let your community be the first to know when you launch a new product but there’s no need to sound sales-y all the time. A healthy balance of new product announcements with helpful tutorials, members-only discounts, and how-tos will be highly beneficial to your community.
#8. Organize live events
Live events are a great way to encourage engagement and relationship-building in your community. Whether in-person or virtual, events are a great way to foster personal relationships between your members and create that feeling of shared experiences and support.
Salem King explained it as this, “Allow your community to form. Take strategic steps to bring your community together in a more organized manner.”
Building a community around your brand also involves fostering personal relationships among members, like Salem King does with the regular in-person commYOUnity hangouts in Lagos and Abuja.
How to Build a Community Around Your Brand: Community KPIs to Work With
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to assess your progress in relation to a goal. Although they vary depending on the community’s purpose, there are still a few universal KPIs.
|Member growth||Total number of members|
|Members in the past month/quarter/year|
|Lost members in the past month/quarter/year|
|New members (month over month, quarter over quarter, year over year)|
|Member engagement||Number of engagements (likes/comments)|
|Number of interactions (How many members shared questions or posts and how many other members interacted with them?|
|Ratio of active to inactive members.|
When assessing member growth, do not look at the numbers as just numbers. Instead, see them as unique individuals tied to your purpose.
Do not think about your followers as the number in your bio. No! It’s the number of individuals who are invested in your story and are tied to your purpose —tied to your decision to show up and be of value every day. Do not get so addicted to the idea of numbers that you forget that each number is a unique human being.Salem King
Additional KPIs to track include the number of products you sell, and your course completion rate (for course creators).
Keep track of these KPIs and monitor them regularly. This way you’re able to make more informed decisions on the best things to do to improve your brand and community quality.
Building a community is an important part of being a creator. But to do so effectively, you need to know what strategies work.
The best part, there are lots of platforms to help you build a community. So if you want to create a social ecosystem for your brand like your favorite creators, Bolaji Ajibare, Salem King, etc. It’s time to build an online community.
Selar helps you to monetize your knowledge by getting paid for what you know. Over 60K creators across Africa use Selar to host and sell digital products like ebooks, online courses, digital art, etc., and receive payment in any currency.
Try Selar today to create a sustainable income from your knowledge.