The average American is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. As such, your digital marketing efforts could amount to nothing more than a virtual shouting campaign unless you build a sense of community around your brand.
Developing that personal connection will help you cut through the chatter and better engage with real-life people who are all too interested in what you are selling. There are also plenty of ways to create a sense of community around your products, including the following.
Your Company’s Website
Your business website will likely form a potential customer’s first impression. Accordingly, it’s important that it provides a warm and friendly appeal while still remaining professional. It should establish you as an authority by providing the type of valuable information potential customers are looking for.
“When people do a search for info related to your products, their queries should lead them to your website.”
Once they land on your site, users should find it easy to navigate. Ensure that there are plenty of high-quality photos and/or videos of your products as well. Make it easy for visitors to interact with you, and have your contact information easily accessible. You might want to invest in online chat and chatbots too.
Interaction and Engagement through Mobile Apps
More people than ever are accessing the web through a mobile device. Users now use a smartphone or tablet nearly 70% of the time to browse the web.
This means a mobile-friendly website, as well as a mobile app, is now essential if you are to connect with customers. A mobile website will get people to your website, but an app is more likely to hold their attention once they are there.
To build a sense of community within your app, you will need to offer ways to keep users engaged.
Think of ways in which you can allow people to interact with one another or even leave feedback about your products. A one-click contact feature will also make it easy for people to get in touch with you whenever they are on the go.
Many small business owners avoid mobile apps because they are unfamiliar with how to create one. Don’t let your lack of knowledge keep you from engaging with your clients. Find out the steps needed for mobile app development and you’ve already solved a big piece of the puzzle.
The Importance of Social Media
Before the digital age, people often chose who they would do business with, based largely on relationships. They often picked local vendors whom they knew intimately and had deep personal ties with. These days, social media allows you to promote that same time-honored concept, only on a much larger scale.
Put simply, social media is one of the best ways to build relationships (and therefore a sense of community) around your products or brand. Through social media, you can interact with people on a personal level. This leaves them with a sense of personal attachment that oftentimes translate into a sale.
Social Media Statistics
Internet users now spend more than 30% of their online time on social media sites. That amounts to more than 2 hours and 15 minutes per person. Social media influences buying quite heavily, according to recent statistics:
- 86% of all women use it when making buying decisions
- 64% of online shoppers made a purchase based upon a video they discovered on social media
- 43% of online retailers achieve significant web traffic from one or more of their social media accounts.
It’s not enough to just have a social media presence. You should also post content that will spur conversation and make it more likely that others will share it. Make it easy for others to post and/or comment, and the number of people you interact with will likely skyrocket.
Sharing Video Content
A recent marketing study showed that 92% of all mobile video watchers would share that video with others. That same study also revealed that videos are 12 times as likely to be shared as text or photographic images.
“People would rather watch a video about your products than read an article about it, and they are also more likely to share a video than text.”
When it comes to video, there are literally dozens of ways to use it. You could upload it to your own YouTube or Vimeo channel, or add it to an existing mobile or desktop website. Video could also be included in email marketing campaigns or virtual newsletters. If you have a blog, alternate between written and video content in order to mix things up a bit.
Surveys, Polls, and Contests
“Contests help you build a sense of excitement and anticipation and get others talking about you.”
Everyone loves contests – the allure of winning something is a great tool to get people you would not ordinarily interact with to become interested in your products. When it comes to contests, you can host them at a physical location, at craft and/or trade shows, or on your social media site.
Polls and surveys make people feel as though you desire their input. This, in turn, can help establish a level of trust that you might not achieve otherwise.
However, do be cautious, because that trust can quickly be broken if you just ask questions but do nothing about the feedback, or if you administer a very lengthy, cumbersome survey even though you said it would only take a few minutes.
Online Forums and Chat Rooms
There are probably numerous forums and online chat rooms where users of your products hang out. If you visit some of the same circles, you can get to know these individuals a little better.
Do so in a friendly, professional way rather than being overly salesy. The last thing you want is for people to feel like they have been stalked and are being harassed into buying something.
The goal in any online forum or chat room should be to build relationships first. After you have done that, talking about your products will come naturally, and people will also be more apt to listen.
Meetups and In-Person Social Events
Building an online community is good, but bringing folks together offline is even better. Schedule a meetup group or real-life event where people can get to know one another. For example, you may want to host a grand opening celebration or simply a customer appreciation event.
Ensure that your event is more like a social gathering than a “meeting” or sales pitch. In planning your event, do not forget to include people you interact with on a daily basis. Before long, you will have a whole team of brand ambassadors promoting your products for you.
When people connect with your products on a personal level, they are more likely to recommend them to their family and friends. Use one or more of the above ideas to build loyalty and a sense of community around your brand and your products.