Every brand has a community, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Small startups, growing businesses, and evolving enterprises all thrive because they connect with a specific group of people who have a passion for what they do, or what they sell.
For years, companies have focused on product-led marketing and sales strategies, to help differentiate them from their competitors and unlock opportunities. But in a world of high competition, and evolving desire for unique experiences, community led growth could be a more appealing option.
Community led companies connect with the people who love their brands, and activate the marketing power of their advocates. Here’s everything you need to know about community led growth.
So, what is community led growth?
Simply put, it’s a go-to-market strategy which leverages the impact, and influence of a strong and supportive user or customer community. Companies build community spaces where they can interact with their product enthusiasts and leverage the input of their fans.
They also implement strategies to nurture their thriving community, focusing on not just customer acquisition, but retention and loyalty.
Community led growth helps brands to thrive in a variety of ways. First, it ensures companies can access the support of their fans to promote products and recommend them to their peers. It also drives engagement in the digital world, allowing companies to achieve greater levels of visibility.
The beauty of a community led company is its beneficial to both the customer and the brand. The brand benefits from a network of enthusiastic customers, ready to influence others to buy. The customers benefit from having a voice and a say in the development of a business.
The evolution of the community led growth method stems from a significant change to the way customers interact with brands. For years, companies viewed the customer journey as a funnel, looking at guiding clients through stages of awareness, to discovery, evaluation, and sales.
However, as the way customers interact with brands has changed, the funnel metaphor is growing less effective. There’s less of a linear connection between brands and customers today. Brands now understand the importance of nurturing leads after they’ve converted into customers, to increase customer lifetime value, and build loyalty.
Community led growth turns the funnel into a flywheel, looking at nurturing community members throughout four stages:
Designing a community led growth strategy means finding ways to create a sense of belonging with your target audience, building advocacy and loyalty. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to harness an online community, but the process usually involves the following steps.
The first step in developing a community is planning. Research your market and the kind of community environments that resonate with your target audience. You might build a community on social media, or create your own community website.
Before you start taking steps to build a community, make sure you know who your target audience is, and how you can deliver value with your community strategies. Send out surveys, conduct interviews, and work with focus groups to collect insights.
When you know your audience’s preferences, you can start updating your content marketing strategy and other campaigns to resonate with their needs.
To nurture and grow an engaged community, you’ll need a team of people dedicated to supporting the people you want to reach. Depending on your team structure, you might assign community managers to the task, or get various employees involved from marketing and sales teams.
These will be the people responsible for learning about your community, responding to their queries, and even sharing product updates and information with your audience. Each team member should know clearly what role they need to play in nurturing your community.
Once you have your team and your research in place, you’ll be able to start setting goals. First, you’ll need to establish what you want to accomplish with your community. How are you going to deliver value beyond your product or service for your audience? What can you do to support your community and help your people thrive?
As your community grows, you’ll also need to set goals to help you monitor the progression of your community activities and strategies.
No matter what type of community you choose to build, engagement will be essential to your success. Fostering conversations, discussions, and interactions is crucial. However, it’s important to maintain control over your community too, with moderation and rules.
Set up a system for facilitating interactions. Figure out how often you’re going to connect with your community directly, and determine a strategy for responding to messages and queries. The best strategy will usually involve having multiple community managers responsible for following, starting, and responding to conversations and discussions.
One of the most important steps in building an effective community, is ensuring you’re delivering clear value to your community members. Your community spaces need to deliver value beyond your product or service. This could mean you provide your customers with videos and tutorials to help them make the most out of your solutions, but also with guides and courses.
You could create articles and blog posts covering specific topics in your industry, or answer questions and troubleshoot common problems for community members.
Any business strategy designed to facilitate growth needs regular monitoring. Identifying what metrics you’re going to measure to determine the success of your community will be crucial. Think about the KPIs and member activities you want to track.
Are you going to monitor the number of people in your community, the quality of the discussions, and the feedback you receive from your community members? Can you implement tools to collect metrics and insights in real-time as your community grows?
While community led growth isn’t a new concept, it has been gaining increasing attention in recent years. Companies like Figma, HubSpot, Duolingo, and Notion are all excellent examples of companies using community led growth strategies to evolve.
Here are some other great examples of community-led growth companies:
Community led growth isn’t just a marketing ploy designed to generate excitement and engagement around a brand. Used correctly, a community led growth strategy can give all kinds of brands a new way to compete in their marketplace.
The key to success is investing the right time and effort into cultivating and nurturing your community, to ensure you generate the right results.
Learn more about the power of communities with the world’s leading sales community landscape – join Hypcccycl today!