How To Build Brand Communities

by Jason Falls |

CommunityThere’s a consistency in what CEOs, CMOs and brand managers are saying these days. “We want to create a community around our brand.” More and more of them are saying it to social media practitioners and champions since advertising agencies can juice your messaging up on “buzz” or craft a catchy video that “goes viral” but never create a community.

But social media is about connecting to communities, not creating them.

Mind you, good social media programming and activity can attract brand fans and foster the growth of brand communities. But most times, the communities themselves exist

In cases of dynamic marketing, like Apple, there need be no social media or networking. Their brand fans are relevant and prevalent without Steve Jobs ever having to say, “Go henceforth and multiply.” Can you imagine how obnoxious they would be if he did?

Then there are similar brands, small ones, which use social media tools to connect to consumers. Night clubs and bars are pretty good at this without ever knowing what they’re doing. Third Street Dive is a punk bar in downtown Louisville. Their bouncer whipped up a MySpace page a few years ago, not to build a community but to find the Third Street Dive community that already existed there.

Now the club, which is smaller than some people’s living room, has 2,800+ friends on MySpace, uses local artists to decorate their pages and routinely updates events, specials and featured bands through their community hub.

Or check out Lewis Green’s business, which he says has grown specifically because of social media activity.

Instead of taking your business or brand to an advertising agency, marketing firm or even social media strategist and saying, “Go build me a community,” you should bring your already existent community to your partners and say, “Help me give them the tools to grow.”

By reaching out to those who know you best, giving them the mechanisms and motivations to share in ownership of your brand, you set in motion a series of events that can take a group of people who use your product or service and transform them into a passionate army of brand ambassadors who essentially market your brand for you.

A prospective client asked me last week how they can build a community around their organization. My response was, “How many people would you consider interested stakeholders in your business?” She said a few thousand. I continued, “There’s your community. We just have to find ways to connect to them and them to others and motivate them to share your story.”

It’s not about creation. It’s about growth.

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

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  2. Bulding Iconic Brands
  3. Best Practices For Online Customer Communities
  4. Do You Know Your Citizen Marketers?
  5. Yahoo Says Advertisers Should Tap Users Passions

IMAGE: “Community by Jeff Kubina on Flickr.

[tags]community building, social media, social networking, community, brand fans, brand ambassadors, citizen marketers, brand enthusiasts, passionistas[/tags]

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).