Tag Archive for community engagement

Building Loyalty- 4 Brands That are Doing it Right

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Building loyalty should be a priority to create a passionate branded community. In my opinion, it is one of the most important things to keep in mind when developing a strategy. People who are loyal to your brand become advocates and help you to promote the brand and broaden your audience. Having a small community of engaged core fans of the brand will be more valuable than having high visibility and an apathetic audience. When people are truly passionate about the company, the services, or the experience of the brand, it creates a community and is attractive to observers. This is where the role of a Community Managers comes in.

According to Work Smart Lifestyle’s post on strong social brands, to create this loyal following, you must connect with your audience and engage with them. It starts with a good product or service. You have to have a good product or compelling mission first in order for people to buy into your company. If they feel like your company values or brand vision aligns with theirs, they are more likely to champion your brand. This core idea ties into the concept of Lovemarks, where brands transcend the boundaries of a typical service and create a more meaningful connection to the people that follow them. This can be achieved by creating a brand experience and persona, and embodying it through social media outlets, blogs, internal services, and any other consumer touch points. A great brand will exceed expectations and provide value to their community.

Here are a few brands that have a very loyal fanbase:

 

Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Whole Foods, Whole Story

The core values of this grocery market is to provide its shoppers with high quality, organic food. The small grocery community crossed with national chain balances reliability with fresh food and a close community feel. They have established a strong brand identity, to the point where Whole Foods is associated with concrete attributes and characteristics. There is even a certain stigma of the people that shop at Whole Foods, though this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Whole Foods perpetuates the local, friendly community through their blog. They appeal to that niche target market and write posts on healthy, organic recipes. The website highlights issues such as sustainability, equal trade, and local community. In addition, the Co-CEO’s have blogs that support the vision, and sustain Whole Food’s image of a close community. Whole Foods uses blogging as a way to channel the mission of the organization and to support the community of Whole Food shoppers.

 

Chipotle

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

@ChipolteTweets reaches out to a tweeter with a complaint and makes a successful brand interaction

Chipotle taps into the trend of conscious fast food. They promote their use of natural ingredients and casual dining to create a brand identity. I know people who are obsessed-going to Chipotle is more like an event rather than a meal. Chipotle embodies the down-to-earth brand persona through their interactions on their twitter handle, @ChipolteTweets. They are one of the best companies for responding on twitter, in my opinion. They make everyone feel like their opinions are important to Chipotle, and builds strong relationships. This strategy engages the consumers the and creates loyalty with the fanbase.

 

YouTube

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTubers on mainstage at VidCon Convention

YouTube, the video platform, has progressed from the website people used to watch cat videos to a platform that supports rising YouTube personalities. YouTube is dependant on user content and user viewership, but they have become very smart in the way that they encourage loyalty and engagement. They now support content creators, certifying channels that have a large following and high quality content and even supporting them financially. These high-profile vloggers are then given credibility, which supports YouTube’s brand popularity. There is a sort of mutual benefit to the people YouTube chooses to support, and those people become YouTube’s Brand Ambassadors.

There is a definite hierarchy within the YouTube community, based on viewership and connections. The YouTube celebrities encourage viewers to create their own content to achieve YouTube fame, and to keep watching their favorite personalities on YouTube. The loyalty in the YouTube community is most apparent during conventions like Playlist Live and Vidcon, where masses converge from all over to meet their favorite YouTube stars.

 

Starbucks

Starbucks Reward Program App

Starbucks Reward Program App

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Like Whole foods, there is a stigma of frequent Starbuck consumers. People are crazy in love Starbucks, and this can be half attributed to the products, half to the community created through the love of Starbucks. They do amazingly well on branding and fostering loyalty with consumers.

An example of this is the Starbucks Reward Program, specifically through the app. The app notifies you when you are near your favourite Starbucks locations, and brings up your virtual card which you can scan to pay through the app. When you pay through the app, you are awarded a star, which accumulate to achieve different levels with increased rewards. This app rewards loyalists and enables an easy way for people to become loyal to Starbucks.

 

Content Drives Community (Drives Content)

“Content is king.” – so goes the oft-uttered saying.  While the phase seems to be derived from an article by Bill Gates, I’ve come across the phrase in #RotoloClass, #NunesClass, and now #CMGRClass.  Although the specific venue within which this rule is most applicable may be debated – websites vs. blogs vs. SEO vs. online communities vs. social media sites – the importance of creating compelling content that resonates with audiences should not be dismissed on any platform.

In Chapter 3 of “Buzzing Communities,” Richard Millington addresses the role of content within an online community.  Millington compares an online community to a much older communications medium, the local newspaper, by discussing three ways the latter serves its community:

  • Establish a social order and narrative: identify the news items and individuals that are most newsworthy of readers’ attention
  • Inform and entertain: balance news and events with entertainment items
  • Develop a sense of social community: serve as consensus and determinant of community opinion

A local newspaper has a critical role in informing its community while establishing context among news items and individuals within the community.  Millington goes on to argue that online communities would be well-served in using local newspapers as a model for developing content.  He provides the following goals of content: create a community narrative, encourage regular readership, develop a sense of community, establish social order, and influence action within the community.

Whereas a content site may deliver the latest information about a topic or organization, prompting visitors to read or consume the content, Millington states that a community site “will provide information for members, establish a social order and facilitate strong bonds and heightened sense of community”, encouraging readers to participate and engage in conversation around the content.  It is content about the community that most resonates with members.

#MeetTheJLS

In July 2012, I became the first Online Engagement Chair for the Junior League of Syracuse.  Earlier that year, while serving as Communications Vice President and recognizing the increasing importance of an online presence in today’s world, I had lobbied for the creation of the role.  Personally, I was struggling to balance my duties at VP while managing the organization’s website and social media properties.  Around the same time, I was a #RotoloClass student, learning all about the importance of social media in engaging in two-way conversation.

Out of #RotoloClass, the idea of a blog post series entitled “Meet the JLS” was born, in which Junior League of Syracuse leaders would be profiled to demonstrate the spectrum of women who make up the JLS and humanize the organization as individual faces behind its logo.  (Little did I know at the time that this series would help to further many of Millington’s content goals, including developing a sense a community, aspirational spotlighting, and influencing activities and behaviors!)

JLS on TumblrI entered the current JLS year completely jazzed about the new blog post series.  To date, five interviews have been conducted and three profiles published (example at right).  Feedback was good, including from the organization’s leadership and membership, as well as from sister Junior Leagues who saw the posts on Twitter using the #MeetTheJLS hashtag.  However, to say that “Meet the JLS” has stagnated since the fall would be a kind understatement.  What happened? – any number of things, on a range of organizational to personal levels (competing priorities, lack of enthusiasm from participants, scheduling difficulties…).  As the time increasingly grew since the last post or interview, frustration slowly turned to indifference.

Moving Forward

The best content for a community is content about the community.  When I read Millington’s quote about the importance of community-based content, it was like a huge light bulb illuminating over my head and an Oprah “aha moment,” all rolled into one.  I immediately flashed back to the excitement of completing my first profile.  Now, I hope to reshape some of my priorities and elevate the blog post series within them, knowing that the content will add to members’ sense of place within the community, and perhaps even promote aspirations to be one of the women profiled in the series.

Do you belong to a community that is particularly inclusive?  What makes you feel part of that community?

(Featured image by Flickr user Cubosh.)