How to Build an Engaged and Loyal Brand Community

When we travel, we instinctively check Airbnb for lodging. Despite numerous other options, Airbnb has managed to cultivate an incredibly loyal brand community, making it the top choice for lodging. But why? Airbnb refers to itself as a “community marketplace.” 

Their “belong anywhere” values and community-based approach make them more than just a property listings platform. Their unparalleled success is due to their ability to leverage their robust community.

Although people may require lodging or purchase useful items that enhance their status, above all, they crave human connection and meaningful experiences. Any business, large or small, that aspires to elevate itself must be capable of delivering this to their customers.

A Brand Community Fosters Loyalty

A brand’s community is its foundation. The community is built upon loyalty and attachment to the brand and its products. It’s about sharing values, ethos, and lifestyle. By creating an interactive setting that fosters a sense of belonging, the “us and them” dynamic is replaced with a “we” mentality.

The only competition that exists is between your community and its rivals, such as Playstation vs. Xbox, Apple vs. Microsoft, Fender vs. Gibson, or Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi.

A brand community offers a plethora of benefits that can significantly impact an ecommerce brand’s success. 

  • It can lead to a reduction in support costs, as customers can directly interact with the brand and each other, minimizing the need for call centers and other forms of customer service. 
  • Direct customer feedback, enabling the brand to understand customer needs and pain points better, which can be used to improve products and services. 
  • Customer loyalty, engagement, and retention, which can result in a more stable customer base.

How can an ecommerce brand create and nurture its brand community? Firstly, it’s crucial to recognize that building a community isn’t solely about marketing or attracting new customers; it’s about cultivating customer loyalty and community engagement (with the customers you already have).

Your community is there to support the people who are already part of it. As per the Harvard Business Review, “Brand loyalty is the reward for meeting people’s needs for community, not the impetus for the community to form.”

The recipe to start an engaged community comes down to two things.

1. Get to Know Your Customer

To build loyalty and a dedicated community, you must understand your target market. 

  • Track customer behavior, conduct surveys, and interact directly with your customers to find out what they value and what they’re talking about. 
  • Use analytics and audience insight tools to learn who your customers are and where they’re from. 
  • Market research will help you understand trends, and data is your most powerful friend. 
  • Get personal by contacting your customers directly and learning what they like about your brand and how you can help them make the most of your product.

2. Create Useful and Unique Content

Now that you have a deep understanding of your customers, it’s time to create tailored content that resonates with them. 

Teach them how to use your product effectively and style it in new ways. Discuss trends and topics that they’re passionate about. Are they drawn to humor? Make them laugh. Are they concerned about the environment? Share powerful stories that inspire and educate. Show your values clearly, and people will be excited to support your brand. 

Take, for instance, Ruby Cup ®, a menstrual cup company based in Barcelona. While their product only needs to be purchased every ten years, they have a fiercely loyal community. Their secret? In addition to their Buy One Give One program and social outreach, they regularly provide engaging content that educates their customers about their bodies, period shame reduction, and supporting women worldwide.

They actively engage with their audience on social media through Instagram stories, giveaways, and educational materials. As a result, when they release limited edition products like eco-friendly toothbrushes, notebooks, t-shirts, and tote bags, their customers rush to purchase them. Strong values and quality content are the cornerstones of their tenacious community.

Community Engagement = Best Customer Experience

According to Hootsuite, the customer experience is “built throughout the customer journey, and includes every step within that journey, from the first moment awareness to the end of the relationship with the brand.”

Customer engagement refers to how the brand interacts with the customer, while community engagement involves how customers interact with one another.

Effective community engagement is not about having thought leaders share their wisdom with the masses, but rather creating a space where everyone has a voice and an equal role in building the community.

An Engaged Community Is Also Prime Marketing

While a brand community can be a valuable asset, it should not be the sole focus of your marketing strategy. Instead, it can complement other marketing efforts.

However, it’s important to recognize that loyal customers will naturally share their positive experiences with your brand on social media. You can leverage this by rewarding them for their advocacy.

By showcasing social proof through your community, you can demonstrate the value of your brand to potential customers and accelerate the sales cycle.

So, what communities do you belong to? Are there any brands to which you are particularly loyal?