Community Based Marketing and Events - Fostering Growth and Connection
Many of us are exhausted by the sheer volume of digital communication we’re involved in each day. It makes sense then that the value of events in community-based marketing, both physical and virtual, is very high.
This page will take you through the basics of community based marketing and how central the power of events can be to achieving your marketing objectives. Our team love these kinds of challenges, bringing a strategic edge to your ideas and helping you get the impact you want.
Understand the difference between an audience and a community and some of the tactics involved in community based marketing.
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What is Community Based Marketing?
At its core, Community Based Marketing is about building genuine connections with your audience. It goes beyond traditional “broadcast” marketing strategies by focusing on creating a sense of belonging and shared identity among customers. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about fostering a community that believes in and advocates for your brand.
In a world saturated with advertising noise, community-based marketing provides a refreshing approach. It’s not merely transactional; it’s relational. By understanding the needs, desires, and challenges of your audience, you can tailor your marketing efforts to resonate on a deeper level. This strategy relies on engagement, dialogue, and a commitment to adding value beyond the sale.
Why is Community Based Marketing a Big Idea in Marketing Now?
In the fast-paced landscape of modern marketing, the shift towards community-based approaches is driven by the desire for authenticity. Consumers are no longer passive recipients of marketing messages; they seek meaningful connections with brands. Community-based marketing allows businesses to humanise their interactions, creating an emotional bond that goes beyond product features and price points.
On top of this, the rise of social media and new tech has facilitated the formation of online communities, making it easier for brands to engage with their audience directly. This trend aligns with a cultural shift towards valuing experiences and relationships over material possessions. As a result, community-based marketing emerges as a strategic response to evolving consumer preferences.
For many of us, we want to spend our money with brands and organisations that we feel a level of affinity with. And more and more research is showing that companies who demonstrate purpose, sustainability and doing good in the world align better with key decision making criteria for purchase decisions.
IPSOS – What The Future: Purpose
What Defines a Community?
A community is more than just a group of people with a common interest; it’s a network of relationships and shared experiences. In the context of community-based marketing, your brand’s community is a space where individuals feel connected to each other and to the values your brand represents.
Whether it’s a physical neighbourhood, an online forum, or a social media group, communities thrive on communication and mutual support. Understanding the dynamics of your community is essential for tailoring your marketing efforts effectively. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; it’s about recognising the unique characteristics and aspirations of your audience.
Community + Events = Growth
The relationship between community and events is a powerful catalyst for growth. Face-to-face events, such as meet-ups, workshops, or gatherings like unconferences, provide a tangible and immersive experience that strengthens the bonds within a community. Online events, including webinars, virtual conferences, and live streams, amplify this connection on a global scale.
Events create memorable touchpoints that resonate with participants, fostering a sense of belonging and shared identity. They provide opportunities for community members to meet in person or virtually, deepening their connection with each other and with your brand. The collective energy generated during events has a lasting impact, translating into increased brand loyalty and advocacy.
That’s why the team at Autumn are so excited about community based marketing. Because events with purpose are the best! And our team has so much experience of running events in all the relevant formats – face-to-face, virtual or hybrid, workshops, fireside chats, conferences, webinars, regional meet ups, you name it.
Community-based marketing can seamlessly integrate into the sales funnel, turning casual consumers into enthusiastic advocates for your brand.
How Does Community Based Marketing Fit into the Sales Funnel?
Community-based marketing is not a separate entity; it can be an integral part of the sales funnel. Traditionally, the sales funnel is viewed as a linear journey from awareness to conversion. However, in the realm of community-based marketing, the funnel takes on a more dynamic and interconnected form.
Community building begins with raising awareness, not just of your products or services, but of the shared values and identity that define your brand community. Social media, content marketing, and influencer partnerships play a crucial role in expanding your community’s reach.
As individuals become aware of your brand community, their interest can be influenced by the authentic connections and experiences it offers. This is where events, both online and offline, play a pivotal role in deepening engagement. Webinars, workshops, and community meet-ups provide platforms for meaningful interactions.
Community members who feel a strong connection to your brand are more likely to convert and make a purchase. The sense of belonging and shared identity cultivated through community-based marketing influences buying decisions.
Beyond the traditional sales funnel, community-based marketing extends into advocacy. Satisfied customers who feel part of a community are not just one-time buyers; they become vocal advocates, promoting your brand to their networks and contributing to the growth of your community.
Digital Community Leaders Report
If you want to find out more about what other digital community leaders are doing and read analysis from 10 experts who have deep dived into the data, head over to communityleaderssurvey.com
The report highlights not just why community matters, but how to get it right by balancing the personal touch with social technical tools. It is a must read for technology, business, and community leaders alike.
Building on our inaugural Digital Community Survey 2021, which focused on how digital communities thrived during the pandemic, the 2023 report covers:
- Community experience and operations
- Organisational culture and capabilities
Why Are Brand Communities So Powerful?
The power of brand communities lies in their ability to create a sense of belonging that goes beyond the usual transactional nature of business. Unlike fleeting marketing campaigns, communities endure over time, providing a consistent and reliable source of support for both the brand and its members.
Brand communities are authentic expressions of shared values. They are not created solely for marketing purposes but evolve organically from the genuine connections formed between individuals who resonate with the brand’s ethos.
Trust and Loyalty:
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful brand. In a community, trust is not just built between the brand and its members but also among the community members themselves. This web of trust fosters loyalty, encouraging repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.
Brand communities serve as invaluable feedback mechanisms. Members are often the first to provide insights into product preferences, pain points, and emerging trends. This real-time feedback loop allows brands to adapt and innovate, staying ahead in a competitive market.
Emotional connections drive brand affinity. Through shared experiences, challenges, and triumphs, brand communities create a tapestry of emotions that bind individuals together. This emotional resonance forms the foundation for long-lasting relationships.
Does Community Growth Mean the Death of Social Media?
Community-based marketing sits alongside social media brilliantly, the two can coexist brilliantly. Social media platforms remain vital for expanding the reach of your brand community and initiating connections. However, the landscape of social media is evolving, placing a greater emphasis on meaningful interactions and community-building.
While social media introduces individuals to your brand, community-based marketing takes these connections to a deeper level. It transforms social media followers into active community members who engage with your brand on a more profound level. The intimate, personalized nature of communities complements the broader reach of social media platforms.
Moreover, communities often have dedicated spaces on branded platforms, such as Superwave, Guild, Circle or Mighty Networks, often with their own apps. Others commission the building of their own proprietary platforms – like the one’s built by our friends at Steadfast Collective. Some opt for platforms such as Slack, LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups, however, many are moving away from this approach due to preferences for owning your own community data.
Wherever you choose to build, these dedicated spaces are where members can interact, share experiences, and provide peer-to-peer support. These spaces become extensions of the brand’s community, creating microcosms of connection within the larger social media ecosystem.
This is all part of the compelling business case for adopting community-based marketing strategies.
The Business Case for Community Based Marketing
Investing in community-based marketing is not just a trend; it’s a strategic imperative with tangible business benefits. From increased customer retention to amplified brand advocacy, the returns on cultivating a thriving brand community are multifaceted.
Acquiring new customers is essential, but retaining existing ones is equally – if not more – critical. A strong brand community contributes to customer retention by fostering a sense of loyalty and attachment. Customers who feel part of a community are less likely to switch to competitors.
Brand communities are organic hubs for word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied community members become enthusiastic advocates, sharing their positive experiences with friends, family, and online networks. This organic promotion is a powerful driver of new customer acquisition.
Innovation and Adaptation
The feedback loop within a brand community provides a constant stream of insights. Members share their preferences, expectations, and suggestions, guiding the brand’s innovation and adaptation to changing market dynamics. This agility is a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. And a big benefit that many don’t talk about is the money you can save by taking this feedback seriously. Think of the money wasted by brands who got it wrong because they didn’t ask and check in with their communities – Pepsi and Kendall Jenner / Samsung and running at night advert
Traditional marketing channels often involve significant costs. Community-based marketing, while requiring investment in community management and event coordination, can offer a cost-efficient alternative. The organic growth and word-of-mouth generated within a community can reduce the need for extensive advertising budgets.
What Are the Tactics Involved in Community Marketing?
Building and nurturing a brand community requires a strategic approach that goes beyond sporadic efforts. Here are key practical tactics to consider:
- Define Your Community – Clearly define the values, identity, and purpose of your community. What common interests, goals or values bring your community members together? Understanding these aspects will guide your engagement strategy.
- Leverage Social Media – Use social media platforms to connect with your audience and initiate community building. Specific campaigns and dedicated hashtags can create spaces for interaction.
- Host Regular Events – Both face-to-face and online events play a crucial role. Physical meet-ups, workshops, unconferences can all provide tangible experiences, while webinars, virtual conferences, and live streams allow for global participation. This where Autumn Live can add so much value to your community based marketing strategy.
- Facilitate Two-Way Communication – Actively listen to your community members. Respond to their feedback, address concerns, and celebrate their successes. Establishing a two-way communication channel builds trust and fosters a sense of inclusion.
- Create Exclusive Content – Offer exclusive content, discounts, or early access to products/services for community members. This creates a sense of exclusivity and appreciation, motivating members to stay engaged.
- Encourage User-Generated Content – Empower your community to contribute to the narrative. Encourage user-generated content, such as reviews, testimonials, or creative expressions related to your brand.
- Celebrate Milestones – Recognise and celebrate community milestones. Whether it’s the anniversary of the community’s creation or individual achievements of members, acknowledging milestones strengthens the sense of community.
- Invest in Community Management – Dedicate resources to community management. Having a team or individual responsible for fostering engagement, moderating discussions, and ensuring a positive atmosphere is essential for sustained growth.
Community-based marketing, coupled with impactful events, forms a dynamic strategy for brand growth. The authenticity, trust, and loyalty cultivated within a community have a ripple effect, extending beyond the traditional boundaries of marketing. By embracing the power of community, brands position themselves not just as products or services but as integral parts of the lives and stories of their customers.
Read some of our Insight posts about Community
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