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Last updated on 3/8/23

Discover the Power of Social Media in Marketing

Identify the Characteristics of a Community

Community. This word may be very familiar to you! But since we're going to be using it throughout the course, let's start by defining it.

Whether you realize it or not, you are already part of some communities. They are groups with whom you share common interests or traits: colleagues, family members, fellow students, or neighbors, to name a few. 

The digital world also allows people to create and host communities.

Sometimes groups form spontaneously around shared interests, with a leader emerging over time. You may be part of discussion forums that emerged in the early 2000s, including topics such as video games, comic books, or ice hockey. Enthusiasts meet and share their passions for these and other subjects. Gradually, moderators can emerge to manage the discussions.

As early as the 1950s, Tupperware launched Tupperware Home Parties. The concept:

  • Friends would meet in their spare time.

  • The products were shown in an entertaining and enjoyable environment.

  • A hostess was the voice of the brand.

Group of women gathered for a Tupperware meeting, where one of them presents the brand's products.
Photo of a Tupperware Home Party

Seventy years later, social media communities are uncannily similar to brand communities. 

  • The brand provides the content to its community for free. 

  • It integrates products and services into an entertaining and joyful environment.

  • It creates a personality or identity. There is often a face associated with the brand, such as an ambassador, founder, mascot, etc.

Try to identify at least one community that you belong to. It doesn't necessarily need to be a brand community. It could be a group of sports fans, comic book blog readers, gamers, followers of a popular Twitter or Instagram account. Have you found any? Keep one or more examples in mind, as this will help you throughout the course.

Understand How Communities Come Together

As you know them today, social networks are the descendants of these forums and Tupperware meetings, but they offer a bigger bang for your buck. You can create, gather, and host a community yourself, online, without any technical knowledge.

You may also be part of proprietary platforms. These are organizations that host their community spaces themselves, outside of their primary business activity. For example, Airbnb, Trip Advisor, and Amazon allow users to leave reviews and chat amongst themselves. 

Screenshot from the review section under an Amazon product. The first review is from Kristin and includes both text and an image of the product (a light). The second review is from Rachel.  They both gave 5 stars.
Source: Amazon

Take Lady Gaga's fan base community as an example. It's on most conventional social networks. They use the same codes and hashtags from Instagram and Twitter on Messenger or WhatsApp conversations, and of course, at her concerts. Such a strong passion crosses network borders. No matter the individual habits of the community members, they go where their idol goes.

How many platforms do you think your communities are active on? These communities influence you. But remember, you can also affect other members or the organization itself: by giving your opinion (positive or negative), sharing information, offering a good word, or creating a video.

Identify the Members of Your Community

If you have a brand with a community, you will need to manage it. That means studying your community members and analyzing their actions and the content they engage with. 

If you represent a consumer brand, your community includes people who:

  • Are passionate about your brand.

  • Use your products or services.

  • Intend to use them.

  • Are simply curious.

  • Appreciate your approach but prefer the competition.

  • Are your colleagues and future colleagues.

  • Are your suppliers, distributors, partners, shareholders, competitors, etc.

  • Are your community members' community.

In short, it can include everyone who revolves around your organization: all of your stakeholders. You will find both dedicated and engaged community members and passers-by representing a unique blend of people and a great opportunity. 

By studying and listening to your community, you'll be able to work with them to improve your offer and your attractiveness.

A community is different than an audience or the public. In an audience, everyone consumes the same content. Consumers don't create content in return, and recipients don't discuss it among themselves. It is different from a database, a prospects file, or customers for the same reasons.

Effectively listening to your community can also help you prevent unwanted outcomes. You will be able to recognize signs of dissatisfaction or malfunction, helping you avoid or stop a crisis.

You can identify people who can add value to you and those who can harm you. It will be just as important to understand what drives them so you can encourage or defuse them.

Let's Recap!

community is a group of people who:

  • Meet around shared interests.

  • With or without a facilitator.

  • Create content, or at least react to content created by a facilitator.

For an organization, this is an opportunity to build a marketing model that is:

  • More horizontal and interactive.

  • Able to communicate messages with human faces, thanks to community mechanics.

  • Able to facilitate more direct contact with stakeholders.

Now that you understand the power of social media for community-building, we are going to look at how to define objectives to help structure your social media activities!

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