The emergence of the Internet has been a turning point in the way brands communicate. Today, it is essential for any organisation wishing to build brand awareness to have a digital storefront on social networks. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Tik Tok alone have 4.5 billion active users worldwide, i.e. more than half the planet: as many potential followers AND customers for brands. Social media are real promotional tools, enabling the creation of communities of fans who share the same values as those promoted by the brand. The communities, whether digital or real, are plural and an adapted digital strategy must be put in place to reach them. How do brands use social networks to reach communities? In this new article from the Studio and as part of Pride month, we focus on communities on social networks and more particularly on the digital strategy implemented by brands to reach them.
- What are so-called ‘communities’?
The existence of communities, in the broad sense, comes before the apparition of social networks. In all periods, men and women have come together according to their common points, values or affinities in order to discuss, share or make themselves heard. Digital tools, on the other hand, have favoured the appearance of virtual communities: an extension of real communities, thus duplicating their impact on society and eventually on brands.
The term “community” is used to refer to a group of people who interact with each other, share and use information related to their common interests, demographic characteristics or professional activities. A sense of belonging is then generated among the individuals who are part of it, to a greater or lesser extent.
Branded communities can be spaces of interaction where customers and companies are in contact with each other. These so-called “brand communities” can have various purposes: from customer support to the co-creation of services or products, marketing studies and even loyalty enhancement. Their role in the influence of the company is essential: the bigger it is, the more impact it will have, hence the interest in taking care of it and making it grow. Of course, a community is not only measured by the number of subscribers on social networks but also by the reactivity, enthusiasm and dynamism of its members in relation to the content generated.
Few brands are satisfied with a restricted and static base of subscribers. The implementation of a marketing strategy on the networks to make its community grow and be diversified is essential. But conquering a new target audience means having to use various modes and means suited to it.
Defining your target: the importance of influencer communities
One of the first steps in building a community on social media is to identify a target audience before implementing your digital strategy.
To this end, the identification of a “buyer persona”, i.e. the “typical individual” for whom the product or service is designed, is often very useful for developing a strategic approach later on. To create a buyer persona, it is essential to gather various information about the persona in order to define their needs and motivations precisely. Once defined, the next step is to find out their habits, particularly on the web. Identifying the social networks and groups on which they are active is also essential.
Using influencers can be a good way for brands to reach so-called thematic communities. Indeed, the influencer often deals with one or several themes such as travel, cooking, life style, humour, video games, etc. (see our article on the power of influence). The community is interested in the content that the influencer produces and therefore the theme that he or she addresses. For example, the island of Martinique wanted to reach people interested in physical and nautical activities. The Studio’s team therefore called on the influencer Isabelle Fabre, whose community is focused on sports, to promote this beautiful destination and its sport-related dimension on social networks, particularly on Instagram. This action was very effective as it reached more than 300,000 people and inspired many sportsmen and women for their next trip.
Find out more about this great collaboration, ici.
Authenticity and openness: an example from the LGBTQ+ community
Although an effort to adjust communication to the group of interest is necessary, the brand identity should not be so far removed from the common ideas and values of the group. An offer is never aimed at everyone. It is always adapted to a certain segment of the population. Indeed, transparency and authenticity should be the key words of a social media marketing strategy. Some communities require even more honesty from brands whose messages are sometimes very powerful.
For a long time the LGBTQ+ community was excluded from the world of communication and marketing. However, with the emergence of social networks and the opening of the debate to the general public, brands have gradually had to make a stand on social issues. According to a Google study conducted in 2017, brands have a real role to play in moving society forward. Indeed, “LGBT Friendly” advertisements are perceived in many countries as an effective way to raise awareness and improve public opinion. Moreover, according to a 2017 Ogilvy survey in the US, half of consumers say they prefer products and services from “LGBT Friendly” brands and shun others. However, beware of the phenomenon of “Pink Washing”: a marketing and communication practice that consists of exploiting the LGBT+ cause, without a sincere commitment to it and, in fact, harmful to the brand.
In the tourism and transport sector, certain destinations, such as Iceland, stand out for their openness to the LGBT cause and are often acclaimed by the community. Some airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, are also keen to affirm their commitment to the movement by displaying their logo in the colours of the multicoloured flag during Pride Month.
As you will have understood, reaching a community is not an easy task, since it requires a long analysis of the behaviour, habits and characteristics of the community, as well as an analysis of its offer to determine whether it is in line with the target group.