July 12, 2016
Cultivating a Social Community: It’s a Lifestyle
The customers of lifestyle brands can be downright enviable. They’re passionate advocates who will support you, help you grow, and stand in your corner. That’s why lifestyle brands lend themselves so well to community marketing. The passion’s there – you just have to fuel it and make it work for you.
Don’t get us wrong: Building a community is hard work. You can’t buy it or program it or set it ‘n forget it. But like everything else, the best way to start is to just…give it a try. Take some tips and inspiration from top lifestyle brands who’ve done it right.
Ongoing Customer Interactions
Social media is a chance to give your brand a face and a voice – something your customers can connect with. It’s (mostly) public, too, so the way you handle these interactions can work wonders for your brand perception. Often, customer service issues can be quashed before they ever become full-fledged problems. All it takes is a quick apology, an answer to someone’s question, an update on their order status, or just an acknowledgment that you’ve heard what they have to say. Empathy and humility go a long way.
Your reputation isn’t the only thing that can benefit from this type of customer engagement, either. Mine the data you get from these interactions to inform your product and R&D efforts.
Who’s doing it well?
Chobani’s community management model is pretty impressive. They work around the clock and respond to every Tweet that mentions “Chobani”. Their NYC office is home to a team of community coordinators dedicated to managing their two Facebook pages, two blogs, three Twitter handles, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ profiles. Always on-tone and always human, their responses are quick enough to make sure their customers really feel heard.
(Selective) Content Diversity
You’d like to be the place your customer goes when they’re looking for the thing your business does. Obviously. So are you giving them valuable, varied content related to that thing? It’s important to provide your audience with a broad range of content – but only the stuff that’s relevant to them! Going too broad is a common mistake, and it leaves your customers overwhelmed by information they don’t care about. Spoiler alert: When your audience finds themselves swimming in content that doesn’t help them, they’re going to leave the pool.
Who’s doing it well?
The Knot is nailing diverse content. Brides-to-be and single folks getting a jump-start on planning their dream wedding can browse through tons of content, all segmented by topics like destination weddings, cakes, dresses, rings, and invitations. They even have tools to create registries, budgets, to-do checklists, and a wedding website that’s personal to the couple. (Notice that there’s no section there for fixing your car or pet care. They know what their audience cares about, and they deliver in spades.) A couple could feasibly plan their entire wedding using only The Knot for their inspo.
One good way to create trustworthy content is to get your users to generate it for you. It’s no secret that people are more wary of what a brand says about itself than what actual customers have said about it. (Bonus points if those customers are just like the reader – it’s been scientifically proven that we trust people that look like us.)
Encourage your customers to create content for you by giving them an incentive, a reward, or just outright asking them to. When a customer buys a product from you, follow up with them to ask for a review. Make it easy for yourself by giving them hashtags to use or directing them to your other profiles. Heck, they might even be sharing valuable content without you having to ask – part of community management is keeping an eye out for these types of posts, sharing them, and making sure you give credit (and thanks) where it’s due. Just that little bit of effort means you’re building a brand ambassador who’ll stick with you for the long haul and help others see that you’re a caring, mindful brand they can really trust.
Who’s doing it well?
We might be a little biased, since we love OrganicGirl, but their community marketing efforts include masterful use of user-generated content. Their Instagram page is full of beautiful, colorful, high-quality photos of food and drinks made with OrganicGirl products. Most of these come from followers’ shares – OrganicGirl reposts often and uses fun, casual language complete with emojis and hashtags. These posts act as positive reviews to generate buzz around OrganicGirl’s products and give the original poster the warm fuzzies for having their image shared by the brand. Win-win!
For better or worse, humans are an emotional bunch. As a lifestyle brand, your community marketing efforts could really benefit from an infusion of emotion to make your message hit home and your brand feel much more “real” than the typical faceless corporation. On your blog, for example, try creating content that plays on common emotional triggers like nostalgia. Social media platforms are casual and fun, so they’re a great place to let your brand’s voice and personality shine.
Who’s doing it well?
AirBnb is no stranger to emotion, and they make it work for them often. Their “One Less Stranger” community marketing campaign is a beautiful combination of social good and user-generated content, and it plays on the very human emotion of belonging. They created the #OneLessStranger hashtag to be used on all their major platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook especially) and encouraged people to participate in their simple pay-it-forward style “social experiment”. The cost to the participant was minimal, and the idea was to brighten a stranger’s day – making “one less stranger” in the world. The benefit to AirBnb may be indirect or intangible, but it’s a campaign that matches their brand values, makes participants feel good, and generates some purely positive buzz.
Building and managing an active community isn’t quick or easy, but it’s well worth the effort. The good news? As a lifestyle brand, you’re already ahead of the curve because your customer base is fiercely passionate! Of course, this list is also by no means comprehensive. Explore some of the brands you admire and see how they’re approaching community marketing. There’s a lot to learn – and if you need a hand, we’d love to help you out. Happy building!