As social media platforms have matured, the ability for brands to easily reach prospects and create customer communities evolved. As you all know, the Wild West days when it was easy to reach thousands of customers for free are over, but that’s not to say there are no longer opportunities and benefits to social media. These platforms are still terrific channels that can bring you opportunities to engage with customers and generate leads, but instead of just chasing down customers and leads via social media platforms, some smart marketers are building their own branded communities.
I recently wrote the above referenced post for SmartBlog on social media to discuss the benefits of a branded online community. In addition to simply providing a “home” on your website for customers, you gain three major additional benefits:
Branded Communities Build Customer Loyalty
There’s no guarantee that a social media platform will last forever. Remember MySpace? And even the most anticipated, new platforms can fizzle out — Google+. Oh, there’s also the issue of declining organic reach on still-popular sites like Facebook where even if your fans follow you, you may not reach them without paying. A branded community can be a great complement to your #social media marketing outreach. Consider social media a starting point to gather fans together. Invite those fans into your home (your branded community) to build deeper relationships.
Branded Online Communities Can Bring Cost Savings
Another attractive benefit of branded online communities is the opportunity for cost savings. What if your community allowed users to help solve low-level issues for other users? What if! That definitely frees up your customer service and support teams to focus on more complex or urgent service and support issues. You get more done more quickly without adding headcount.
Discovery of New Sales & Marketing Opportunities
A third benefit of online customer communities is that it essentially becomes a stream of continuous customer interactions and feedback. For product marketers and managers, your next major enhancement or product idea could come from this group. Content marketers can find the next big idea for a great blog post or online campaign sparked by interacting with users. There are also opportunities to upsell and cross sell, as well as build relationships with people who may be participating in free trials — relationships that can turn into ongoing, repeat purchasing customers.
Have you considered developing a branded online community? Check out my post on SmartBlog to get more in-depth information on the topic.