A brand community is a group of consumers who invest in the brand in more ways than just purchasing what is being sold. They invest in the brand emotionally driven by a sense of belonging. Many brands have a huge community following, but with the explosion of social media and the digital age, brand communities are typically not face to face anymore, they have transitioned to online communities. Let’s take a look at Ultra Music Festival. Ultra Music Festival is an annual outdoor EDM festival that started in 1999 in Miami. It used to be a one-day event in Bayfront Park. It gained so much recognition for its EDM DJs that it moved to a bigger space and became a three-day event, and in 2008, Ultra began Ultra Worldwide.
Ultra is what EDM lovers look forward to year long and purchase their tickets a year in advance to be able to secure their spot to the biggest EDM event of the year. Even though Ultra Music Festival is worldwide, they have evolved their community digitally. Ultra is the biggest EDM event of the year, hosting dozens of worldwide recognized DJs, but the event is transmitted online for the world to witness and partake in the event. Over the years, they have created and established a following with UMF TV, UMF Radio, and UMF Films. Attending the event is an amazing experience, but for those who cannot make the trip halfway across the country, they have the opportunity to witness the three-day festival online for free through this online community. The loyal community of Ultra Music Festival transformed this non televised event to a worldwide streamed, tweeted, followed, viewed, and shared event. This is the power of brand communities. The emotional connection the fans have with UMF is what evolved the brand to be able to connect with others online worldwide.
Creating an online brand community is not an easy task and takes strategy. An article by Peter Fisk, who is a global thought leader in leadership and strategy, innovation, and marketing, believes there are three foundations to building a great brand community, the three C’s. Consumer, collaboration, and content.
Consumer– beginning with your target audience, you find your consumer to join the community based on a shared interest or like of the brand.
Collaboration– this is engaging with the brand community, whether it be discussions, forms, or blog postings. Creating it as a community platform to engage with different members based on similar interests.
Content– content is what keeps the community engaged and interacting. This is in the form of newsletters, videos, tweets, social media posting, blogs, emails, etc.
Communities are a powerful form of marketing tactic for brands. It reduces the dependency on paid advertising, increases customer retention through ongoing engagement, and gives the customer a voice in the brand and makes them feel connected to the brand. Online communities have taken over the former face to face communities. They are not only more convenient, but they are also easier. You can sit in the comfort of your own home and log onto a group chat and start posting your thoughts/feelings about a particular brand with other people who have a similar interest in the brand. It is the new way to interact with a brand.
Another benefit of online communities is the factor of social listening. You can hear and read what consumers are saying about a brand and implement the recommendations to improve customer experience. This is free advice that drastically enhances customer perception of the brand. They can use what they learned and develop a strategic marketing strategy to improve a product, the brand, or future insight.
Online communities are merely the evolution of standard online business and face to face communities. It is an easy and cost-effective way to get people involved and connected with the brand and allow room for improvement and a higher financial return. Wanna check out some great online brand communities? Follow this link to read more brilliant examples of online brand communities.