Online Communities — A New Medium for Marketing
Online communities have become a successful platform for marketers to promote their brand and accelerate its growth
Quite recently we’ve all been hearing about this new buzz around “online communities”, where different companies and organisations are using these as a platform to reduce churn, improve customer relationships, increase engagement and a lot more. With a growing number of community management platforms like SocioHub, many brand managers and marketers have been wondering whether having an online community can help them become a front runner in their industry?
Well honestly speaking the answer is not a straight yes or a no but it really depends on whether the company has a use-case to leverage the trending medium called “online communities”.
But first, let’s understand what these really are?
What are online communities?
An online community or internet community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who use the internet to communicate with each other. Online communities have their own set of guidelines and needs, like moderation, and management.
Types of online communities
There are many types of online communities. Here are four common types, differentiated by the purpose that brings them together:
1. Interest- A group defined by a common interest or passion. Think of an online group which discusses mathematics or hobbies.
2. Action- Communities that come together to bring about change. For example, activists forming a group.
3. Place- Communities within geographic boundaries. For example, a local neighbourhood group.
4. Profession- Members of a particular profession come together to share professional development tips. For example, doctors’ associations or artist groups.
For this guide, we will focus on communities that are defined by their practise, interest and action.
Prerequisites for a successful community
As we have discussed so far, a community is an online space where members or people of the community can receive support, engage in discussions and make social connections. But simply creating a community does not mean that you’ll see results and success.
For success to happen, communities need to have these prerequisites. These include:
1. An organization with a community buy-in
2. An established community manager
How can marketers leverage online communities?
About 40% of marketers use online communities for various reasons. Online communities really have a lot of potentials when it comes to marketing.
Despite platforms like Facebook, online communities are a more direct and cost-effective way which allows marketers to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level with customers and members, enhancing efficiency, improving customer satisfaction and boosting retention.
An online community can power the growth of your business in many ways including:
- Content marketing
2. Wider audience
3. Data-driven strategies
5. Enable your users to discuss and connect under your brand.
6. Understand, target and convert members based on their behaviour in the community
7. Drive engagement with leaderboard through gamification.
8. Deliver a personalised content experience
Gymshark leverages online communities to engage and retain their customers.
Gymshark has been leveraging online communities to promote their brand. They utilise their community to regularly share fitness-related content, allow interaction between influencers and fans, allowing the company to foster stronger customer relations and build a personalised brand experience. Special sales, live classes and demonstrations, are few other strategies they use their community for.
Power growth of your brand with an online community
With the increasing significance of being digital and staying interconnected, online communities have now become a powerful channel for brands and businesses to grow.
Investing in an online community will not only help brands build loyal advocates but also get the brand in positive limelight where they will have an opportunity to fuel discussions and create a word for themselves.