As any savvy marketer knows, creating a community around your brand is an extremely effective marketing strategy. If you didn’t know, consider this a crash course in Community 101. Not only does it give you a way to connect with your audience on a deeper level, but it also allows you to tap into their creativity and get visibility for your brand. Of course, building a community doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and engagement from you and your audience.
But if you're willing to put in the work, the payoff will increase your outreach and solidify the relationship you have with your current customers.
Here are some key steps for creating a community as part of your marketing strategy:
1. Identify your audience
Every marketing strategy is created around a series of questions. Consider the following:
- Who are you trying to reach with your community?
- What are their interests and needs?
Once you understand who your audience is, you can start thinking about how to best connect with them.
If you don’t have any customers, figure out what people are searching for. For example, if you’re a bakery, research your competitors and keep up with current culinary practices. Google Trends lets you narrow down on current search trends by time and even geographical location.
2. Accelerate & activate your growing community
If you have a community already, there are ways to continue growth.
For example, let’s say you're a local athletics business and decide to host a pickup pickleball tournament every Sunday to build brand awareness, but need a higher turnout. You can start by surveying your current participants. The last thing you want to do is host games on a day when people are at work or are out of town. You’ll be able to ask participants to find out whether they live in shared households, if they need to give babysitting notice, if their pets need outdoor time, or how much people would be willing to pay for membership. This knowledge will help you plan future tournaments or schedule games within a time frame that everyone may enjoy more!
Consider a link to a Google Forms or Survey Monkey questionnaire. They’re free and help you organize community info in one spot. Add it to your social media or email it out to your team members through your weekly newsletter.
3. Create custom swag
There are few better ways to build engagement than through a community gifting/sharing strategy. Creating custom swag packages that you can mail out to brand advocates and influencers is one approach—but there's also the option of creating a storefront in which your swag is available for purchase.
Few do this side of community-building better than Youtube streamers. Many will take inside jokes or references that only members of their community would understand, and then build swag around that concept. Think phrases on custom printed t-shirts, mugs with the Youtuber's face on them, wall art, etc. This gives community members the opportunity to bond even further with each other and make their fandom more clear to the outside world! Think of it like a band t-shirt for you brand.
If you can leverage your community not just as a marketing tool but as a direct stream of revenue, that's a win-win!
The right swag can make all the difference. Check out some of our custom swag tips based on current trends!
4. Make it easy for people to join
Creating a brand community should be easy and accessible for everyone involved. Make sure there are light barriers to entry (if any) and consider offering membership benefits or exclusive content to encourage people to join. Try to send out a special gift or promotion as part of an exclusive birthday club.
We’re in the age of the subscriber, so try to find content of value to create in order to get people to join your brand on Instagram or TikTok. Customers want to be part of your brand’s transparency - get them behind the scenes and make them feel special.
5. Be creative (and intentional) in your content
To keep people engaged, your community content needs to be interesting and original. Get creative with your posts, and make sure to mix things up regularly so people don't get bored. Shopify recommends creating a schedule in how often you post. We walk you through our printing process on our Instagram weekly. This means on Mondays and Wednesdays you could do a how it’s made and/or on Friday’s a D-I-Y approach to when you plan out your posts. This way, your community will have a reference or source to ideas out for themselves and knows what and when to expect updates.
Want to leverage custom swag in your community-building process? We can help! We're kind of experts.