The goal in ecommerce is always growth.
But, what does growth mean for online brands?
We’ve got a little tip for you: it’s not just about growing sales. It’s about growing content, growing trust, and growing online communities and engagement.
Building an online community for your brand can boost your sales and engagement numbers, but more importantly, it puts you on the same level as prospective customers, making your brand relatable, digestible, and authentic.
Gathering potential customers through content and comments may seem straightforward, but in reality, it takes a great amount of energy and effort. Building a real community with trust and high levels of engagement means having to put some real work in.
So, how can you build your own online community?
Let’s get started.
What is an online community?
Online communities are simple in definition, but mighty in practice.
They consist of a group of people who interact via an online platform such as Instagram, Facebook or TikTok. Using these platforms to host challenges, post content, take polls, and otherwise engage with their followers can be considered online community building.
These types of communities can range from a popular Instagram beauty guru’s account with hundreds of thousands of followers, to a small private Facebook group with a very niche interest.
For ecommerce brands, online communities act as an extension of the brand itself, and provide numerous opportunities to build trust and emotional connections with both current and prospective customers.
Benefits of building an online community
Engagement is key to building a successful ecommerce brand. It acts as a qualifier for many potential customers. If a brand has a great engagement rate, consumers are more likely to find that brand trustworthy and eventually purchase their products.
With an online community, followers look forward to your next content output because it’s their chance to interact with your brand and other customers who share similar interests.
Plus, the more content you’re putting out into the world, the more likely your current and potential customers are to interact with your posts and other members of the community.
Overall, the higher your engagement rate, the more likely your content is to land on discovery pages or suggested watchlists – expanding your reach even more.
Builds brand loyalty and trust
Building brand trust and equity within a saturated online marketplace is one of the most effective ways to position your online store as a leading contender.
Did you know that 89% of consumers are likely to use a business that responds to its reviews? That means responding to comments on social posts as well.
When potential customers see a brand giving their followers attention, it confirms that the brand is committed to providing a positive customer experience.
Helps you understand your customers
Building an online community is a great way to develop your very own built-in focus group.
Through comments and engagement, your followers will give you feedback and insight into what they want to see, whether it be new content or an entirely new product. You can even utilize tools like polls and surveys to prompt their thoughts.
The best part? Your customers will feel as though they are a part of the brand building process, leaving them more invested in your company, your products, and your community.
How Young Nails uses content to build an online community
With no customer audience (due to only selling directly to distributors at the start of the business), Young Nails needed to find a way to expand their reach to potential consumers and build trust in their brand.
Young Nails needed to show the nail community who their company was.
How did they do it?
They began posting vlogs religiously, and slowly but surely began to gain insight into what resonated with customers interested in their nail products.
Young Nails was one of the first nail companies to begin sharing videos on YouTube, and customers in the nail community noticed.
Building a community online helped Young Nails not only sell their products and reach loyal customers, it also saved their business. They now have a thriving online community with over one million followers across their Instagram and YouTube channels.
So, how can your brand pave the same path?
Be consistent with your content and analyze engagement
Develop a schedule of content and stick to it! Don’t be afraid to post daily, or even twice a day. Once you begin posting content consistently, you’ll be able to see patterns of engagement. If you’re only posting once or twice a week, there are too many variables unaccounted for when measuring the data.
Don’t let perfectionism hold you back
If we all waited until things were perfect, nothing would ever get done! In reality, having content that’s overly-produced can actually hurt your brand voice, rather than help it.
Where platforms like Instagram were once home to carefully filtered, picture-perfect content, there’s been a noticeable shift towards raw, deliberately amateur styles that feel much more relatable to audiences.
Customers want to see authentic content. In fact, 60% of consumers believe user-generated content (UGC) is the most genuine. If you’re seen UGC, it can be as simple as a quick video taken with an iPhone.
Creating authentic content is a critical component of a successful brand and online community. Your audience needs to relate to you and believe in you. A super professional set up can get in the way of this, so it’s important to strike a balance between quality and feeling personable.
Develop a community manager role at your company
A community manager is responsible for sifting through comments, DMs, and more on social channels to take a pulse of the community. They’re looking for feedback and insight into what customers are looking for.
Plus, it’s their job to make sure things are running smoothly and brainstorm ways to improve your community, product, and branding.
With the right investment and strategy, your online community can become one of your most essential marketing channels.
Cultivating an engaging space builds brand awareness and trust, provides powerful insight into potential and current customer wants, and drives conversions – what’s not to love about that? It’s the perfect way to create a relationship between consumers and brands while maintaining an organic, genuine approach.