Who Is Your Brand’s Audience?
Who Is Your Brand’s Audience? Community Sets The Tone
As a brand, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your company stands for and how it positions itself in the market for its audience (if you don’t, there’s some work to be done)! No doubt you have some form of branding guidelines, a corporate mission statement and perhaps even some in house culture documentation on what your team is about.
Here’s the real question though: do your customers see your brand in the same way?
How Brand Communities Are Evolving
The term “brand community” has been around for a while. One of the seminal thought pieces from Albert M. Muniz, Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn back in 2001 established some of the core foundations that have helped to define what we mean by a brand community.
Simply, the old model of interacting with customers ad-hoc (unique touchpoints of sales, reactive customer service, one-off marketing campaigns etc) is evolving into something new. Something that builds an ecosystem around your audience that keeps them engaged and in many cases develops them into brand ambassadors.
What communities allow you to do is build real and meaningful relationships with people.
That’s the key.
But We Do Social Media?
If at this point you’re thinking “Hang on, we already do have relationships with our audience through social media”, that’s a perfectly reasonable response so let’s explore.
Social Media can be brilliant. It quickly and reasonably cost effectively gets you connected with your audience to promote, interact and listen. However, in recent years social media is coming up against some key challenges:
1. The Noise
You’re competing in spaces where millions of people are interacting at such a pace that meaningful relationship building is often lost. Likewise, social channels can be treated as a very throwaway medium. Once the customer has seen your ad or resolved their complaint, they drift away and onto something new. You’re a few seconds of their day.
2. The Data
It’s not a secret that data handling has been a big problem for social media platforms of late. As CMX notes:
Facebook is currently getting hammered, as is warranted, due to their handling of sensitive user data. Since the 2016 elections, the company has dealt with a consistent decline in approval ratings.
Customers are becoming wary of social channels, and are beginning to truly understand the value of their thoughts, opinions and contributions. Thus, they are looking for reciprocal value when they contribute online, and to know that their data is being dealt with sensitively and securely.
3. The Platform
Customers are increasingly aware they are speaking to your brand inside a third party framework and can become guarded. As a company, it’s impossible to customise your space to such an extent that it removes enough of the platform framework that causes this cognitive bias in users.
The platform also lays down the rules of engagement. Many social media platforms offer tools and functionality, but they are often limited and always at the behest of what the platform feels is important.
Thus, as a brand, you are never fully in control and are limited in how you engage with your audience and can struggle to adapt to their growing needs.
4. Who Is Your Audience?
Thus, a combination of unnecessary noise, mistrust and guarded interaction and a lack of control over the environment creates some serious challenges to overcome. You might have a plethora of interactions with your audience (and some will, of course, be valuable), but there is a real challenge in developing those meaningful relationships and understanding how your brand is perceived. Read more about how your audience is your brand’s best marketing asset.
Enter Brand Community
A good brand community, carefully built and nurtured, smashes that roadblock. Members step into a feature-rich, safe environment where they can see the brand places significant value on them and their engagement.
Your community team can still do many of the things you wanted to achieve with social media, but now the noise is gone, you’re treating their data with respect and trust is being built.
Real relationships are forming and as the trust grows and members create a thriving community, real insight is possible into how your audience truly sees your brand. Not just in the past or present, but how they can help shape the future to create brand values that genuinely resonate with new and existing customers.
These, in turn, will help you optimise existing services and products, and create new ones that make your brand relevant, valuable and fully supported decisions that help you shape your company culture and branding.