As regular readers of this blog can attest, I like to talk about what I call Brand-Driven Communities. This is a phrase I use to describe that audience of rabid fans that you can build around your brand that is further amplified by establishing a strong presence via social media. And though I’ve written about how we can build these communities with various social networking sites, I thought I would back up and explain the six traits that makes Brand-Driven Communities tick and why they are critical to your brand’s survival and long-term health.
1. Motivated by Maslow
Brand-Driven Communities are motivated by need. One of the best constructs for understanding human need is psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Many of us know this simple stack that builds up like any pyramid with those basic physiological and health and safety needs at the bottom that ladders up to esteem and self-actualization at the top.
This hierarchy holds remarkably true for Brand-Driven Communities as well. Communities formed around a common bond need things. For example, that flock of fans lined up outside the Apple Store isn’t there for shelter. They are there to have their self-esteem needs met. They define themselves as the people that buy the new iPhone or iPad on the first day. It’s extremely important for brands to understand what need of their consumers they are meeting (the real need not the one in your stuffy business plan).
2. Driven to Action
Brand-Driven Communities take action. They buy things, they vote for things, they support things — they change the state of things. And like the individuals in the community that need things from the brand, the brand needs the community to take that desired action. Herein lies the reciprocal relationship that is at the heart of the Brand-Driven Community.
3. Social in Every Sense
Brand-Driven Communities are social — in every sense of the word. Simply put they are chatty with their friends and with the world at large. (You can no doubt imagine why this is a handy trait to have at your brand’s disposal.) Even though social media is a huge facilitator of this chattiness and enables global connectivity, it’s important to note that these communities also …
4. Gather Offline
Offline gathering is every bit as critical to Brand-Driven Communities. The strongest communities connect both online and off. Case in point, the car brand MINI, which fosters online fan forums and support but also encourages owners to gather offline through the establishment of regional motoring clubs. This gathering is important in that it fosters another key trait of Brand-Driven Communities, which is the fact that they …
5. Help Each Other
Brand-Driven Communities help each other. These online and offline gatherings provide opportunities for community members to help one another with best practices, tips, and insider information. The Salesforce.com and WordPress communities come to mind as prime examples of helpful fans. This trait makes the community stronger while amplifying the brand’s power as well. It also makes the community members more likely to …
6. Share A Lot
This is where Brand-Driven Communities can use social media to spur exponential growth. Consider the fact that Mark Zuckerberg estimates that his 750 million Facebook users share an average of 4 billion items each day. This is how your fans begin to share your brand not only inside your community but beyond through their own networks — leading to a greater level of growth for your brand.
These traits not only illustrate the inner workings of Brand-Driven Communities but they also reveal the incredible value that these communities provide — both to the community members and the brand itself. This is an unquantifiable asset that will serve your organization for years to come. All it takes is a keen understanding of brand building and some social savvy.
Are you ready? What are you doing to build a strong community around your brand?