If you’re in the marketing world, there’s almost no doubt that you’ve heard the word “community” thrown around. It’s now a common buzzword – and is often looked at as a quick solution to a business problem. However, there are dangers in thinking this way, particularly when assuming your internal marketers can replicate the value of a well-run community.
Kavi Guppta, in a recent Forbes article, discussed some of the common mistakes companies can make when attempting to build online communities. A number one no-no is making a community for the sole purpose of marketing a brand or product. To people within the community, nothing is a bigger turn-off (and nothing will make them flee faster). Instead, ensure that communities are a fun and trusted place for people to come together and discuss their ideas, not a place where they will be peddled at and pitched to. Let conversations evolve organically – brands should never obstruct this delicate balance. And, as Guppta warns, “users can quickly sniff out the overly chipper brand representative who tries to push product on people.” Lastly, letting voices and passions and ideas thrive is what gives a community its vibrancy; for brands that listen, this often yields surprising insights, deeper loyalty, and higher engagement in the long-run.
Brand marketers are best served by stepping aside and letting the people in the communities do the talking. One section in particular caught my attention:
… It’s important to remember that people, not customers, are at the heart of what’s being developed. Brands can provide a space for people to interact, but it’s entirely up to the population to decide whether that space is worth their investment in time.
I couldn’t agree more. Here at C Space, we use the community platform to empower people to be creative and expressive and it’s important we don’t make them feel like they’re a number being used for research. It’s not about getting a group of customers to log in to an online platform and answer research questions. It’s about building strong relationships with the people that are dedicated to, and interested in, a brand or company. Communities need to be less transactional, more interactive, more lively, and – most of all – more human.
These people should always be at the heart of business, helping to inspire organizations to think creatively and innovate differently. They should be guiding companies to grow and improve continuously – after all, they’re the ones that are buying your products or services, shouldn’t you be giving them what they need?