Easy methods to Foster a Neighborhood Round Your Model

If you are a growing company, building a community around your brand is a great way to boost business. Community engagement can help convert followers into repeat customers, and ultimately lifelong brand advocates who spread the word about your product or service.

This, in turn, will attract even more customers – after all, if you have good word of mouth, many consumers trust peer reviews of a company versus advertisements from the same company and are more likely to be able to engage with your company. To build a community around your brand, eight successful entrepreneurs share their top tips.

1. Highlight Customer Stories.

Customers trust each other the most, so let them speak, says Kyle Wong, founder and CEO of Pixlee. As a brand, you can facilitate this discussion and encourage sharing.

“To build lasting engagement, do your best to highlight authentic customer stories – with permission, of course,” says Wong.

2. Encourage executives to speak directly to your audience.

If you want to nurture a community, says Kelsey Raymond, co-founder and president of Influence & Co., that community needs to hear from the people behind your company.

“People connect with other people, not brands, so it’s important to establish the leaders on your team as the face of the company,” explains Raymond. “Create content from each of them to connect with your audience.”

3. Create content pillars and post them regularly.

Rishi Sharma, founder and CEO of Mallama, recommends growing startups to build “content pillars” so customers can regularly engage with content they are interested in. Regardless of whether they contain a podcast, newsletter, IGTV series, or any other type of content, these pillars should build awareness and community of the topics being discussed or those surveyed.

“Consistently publishing content in multiple media increases brand affinity and value,” says Sharma.

4. Create a newsletter.

Newsletters are a great way for your audience to stay up-to-date on your business and get the latest information, says Stephanie Wells, Founder and Lead Developer, Formidable Forms.

“In most cases, newsletters publish information that is not yet publicly available, so subscribers feel like they are part of an exclusive community,” added Wells. “You can use newsletters to ask questions of your subscribers and get to know them better.”

5. Give away valuable information.

According to Eng Tan, founder and CEO of Simplr, trust is the foundation of any successful community. To build that trust, offer easy, unrestricted access to some of your most valuable content such as webinars, courses, articles, and events.

“Community members who have had a generous and valuable experience are far more likely to be willing to recruit, upgrade, or recruit new members,” says Tan.

6. Create events that lead to impact.

Brands that want to build a community need to show how they go beyond the “buy and sell” norm, says Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. These brands need to show how they can make a real impact they have a bigger vision for their business.

“An event is a great way to help a large group of people connect deeply with your company’s vision through an experience they won’t easily forget,” says Munoz.

7. Consistently engage with customers on social media.

Engaging actively with your audience is a cornerstone of a brand-based community.

“Consumers want to support companies that have a strong brand identity and presence,” said Chris Christoff, co-founder of MonsterInsights. “When you engage with people on social media, help people with questions, and attend community events, more people will be mentally invested in your business.”

8. Be authentic in all communications.

Authenticity humanizes a brand and helps build real connections within your community, says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder and creative director of Marquet Media, LLC. Therefore, you should aim to be authentic in all brand communication.

“When you are authentic, you can differentiate your brand from the competition,” explains Marquet. “It shows that your brand is not for everyone.”

The opinions expressed by Inc.com columnists here are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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