3 Strategies For Building a Community

Building a community? 3 key strategies to get you started

August 2, 2019

The rise of democratized content hasn’t just changed expectations about the types of content brands produce – it has amplified consumers’ voices. 

Consumers have dwindling patience for impersonal and transactional relationships with brands. They want to be treated as stakeholders and partners, which means they want brands to listen to their concerns and reflect their values. 

This is where community comes into play. But when it comes to building a community alongside the advertising industry – which has always struggled with cultivating trust among consumers – it can be a little more complicated. A study commissioned by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) found that 96% of consumers do not trust in or believe that the ad industry acts with integrity. So how do we as marketers facilitate authentic conversation, show we are actually listening and keep our members engaged? Creating a community for your users or customers, for one, is a great way to change the status quo and shake this perception that big brands aren’t “human.” You can also do this by licensing relevant, user-generated content in your marketing and advertising campaigns (something Catch&Release can help with), but we’ll save that for another post. 

Today we want to focus on an event we recently attended that was put on by CMX, a network for community professionals that provides community teams with everything they need to build thriving communities. It brought together Mindy Day, Senior Community Manager at Patreon; Emily Lakin, Director of Community at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; and David Spinks, Co-Founder of CMX, for an open discussion on building intrinsically motivated communities. 

Below are some key takeaways from the event.

#1: Build a personal (human!) relationship with community members 

This may seem like a given, but it can often be overlooked when the goal of starting a community is usually to get as many people to join as quickly as possible. Providing a format for direct, 1:1 conversations helps build a personal relationship between you and your members. This highly personal format is what can encourage continued, active membership, as opposed to joining and then forgetting about it. It also gives your brand a chance to establish its values and mission for both the company and the community. 

At Catch&Release, our mission is to create a fair and equitable marketplace for Content Contributors (those we license content from) – specifically those that aren’t necessarily creating content with the intention of selling it – as well as the brands and agencies that want to license the content to tell more authentic, visual brand stories. We essentially have two communities: Content Contributors and content buyers (brands and agencies). It’s up to us to always be communicating our mission and value, openly and equally to both sides. 

That was another important learning: creating opportunities for ongoing dialogues with your community members. This is vital to establishing trust and engagement. For example, Mindy Day of Patreon suggests that when you pose a question or prompt an action or response from your community, allow members to respond first. This will further encourage members to engage with each other and with your brand. 

#2: IRL is where the magic happens

While a majority of our daily lives are now spent online, nothing can beat IRL (in real life). By attending this CMX event, we were able to meet like-minded community managers across a wide-array of industries, gain invaluable insights and learn from each other. These “offline” events truly bring communities together, and end up enhancing the online experience afterwards as members leave feeling more connected – which is something we especially want to emphasize. Our Content Contributors are just as important to us as our agency and brand customers, so we want to make sure they feel as supported and advocated for.  

#3: Foster a sense of shared identity and belonging

While the first two points are means to reach this end, this is an especially important point that deserves its own section. Cultivating a shared identity among members is key to the success of any community – whether it’s a community of 10, 1000, or 1 million members. If you can find the voice of your members and speak their “language” – if you know what they care about, what makes them tick and can tailor your questions and responses accordingly – you ensure that members aren’t only there for the potential tangible benefits of being “a member”, but believe in the intrinsic, long-term value of the community. 

We’re so glad we attended this CMX event, and look forward to future ones. We feel more confident, excited and ready to explore building our own community for Content Contributors. Stay tuned!


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