8 Benefits of a Brand Community for Your Members and Stakeholders

January 16, 2024

When creating a brand community, it’s worth remembering that the benefits are a two-way street.

Your organization will undoubtedly reap the rewards of the active engagement of your most valued customers. However, it’s also important to understand how the community itself will benefit from the program, as this will both encourage initial adoption and aid ongoing participation.

If you’re planning to launch an online brand community or to expand an existing one, use this article as a source of inspiration for how it will reward both your internal stakeholders and cherished customers.

1. Bringing brand exposure, credibility, and a sense of belonging.

When community members share your branded content on social media networks, your products and services get a free promotion boost, which also builds trust around your brand, inspires positive word-of-mouth, and elevates your company’s social media image.

For your members, such acts allow them to have a professional voice among their peers, become trustworthy, and also be a credible source of what is new and trending in your industry.

Vice versa, a buzzing brand community cultivates in your customers a personal sense of belonging, which is long recognized as one of the fundamental human needs, as explained in the “The Human Need to Belong” article.

During the uncertain times of the pandemic, this ‘need to belong’ has become even more important than ever before, as people around the world faced an increased sense of social isolation due to the lockdowns. Online activity has reportedly risen to an even higher level, as people try to maintain existing relationships and form new ones.

If your company already had an online community, your customers will remember the relief, assistance, and stability they found there long after today’s difficulties have passed.

2. Product innovation and kudos.

When product innovation comes only from within the company, it can sometimes lead to group thinking. It becomes difficult to generate new ideas, as people cannot see the forest for the trees. Out-of-the-box thinking is required here—or as famous trend researcher Gerald Celente puts it: “There is no box.”

What better way to source this than from your own community members, who are working with your products in the real world and in a variety of ways? Of all people, your customers are the most likely to see the ways in which your products can be enhanced—and indeed hundreds of game-changing innovations at companies such as Apple and Starbucks have come directly from their community members.

A brand community has a unique way of inspiring innovative concepts from your customers thanks to the open discussion forums where members can freely express themselves and bounce ideas off each other.

These environments are traditionally much more productive than the stifling process of filling out a generic customer feedback form, which often results in the ‘Hawthorne effect,’ where people speak and behave differently when they know their words and actions will come under scrutiny.

Consider how refreshing it is for your community members to be able to express their thoughts without fear of judgment. And having their ideas turned into real-world product innovations brings incalculable rewards of self-esteem, bragging rights, and elevated social status.

3. A free testing environment where customers drive mutual success.

Another way to leverage the power of your brand community is to use it as a pre-release channel. By sharing or presenting new product features and services to your community before their launch, you can get an abundance of valuable feedback from your most trusted customers. With their insights, you can iron out any limitations or flaws in your product to ensure 100% success and adoption when you make it available to the broader audience. Can you think of a more fruitful and effective way to beta test?

Community members will feel glad and proud to know that as the brand’s most valued customers their input will pave the way for success—of your products, of the industry as a whole, and if they also adopt the new products, of their own businesses as well.

8 benefits of a brand community for your members and stakeholders

4. Boosting customer success and reducing support costs.

A brand community platform can and should also function much like a user-generated customer support center, thanks to the product feedback, tips, and user experiences provided by your very members.

Make sure your community supports Q&A sessions and ask-me-anything (AMA) interviews and serves as a go-to forum where users can find quick solutions to their problems and address any lingering bottlenecks. This is key to ensuring continued product satisfaction, a richer customer experience, and an alignment of your business goals with customer requirements.

Not only will your customers appreciate the free and instant customer service, but in turn they will be more likely to help others in a similar situation when the opportunity arises, to boost their own status. For your company, this has the added advantage of resulting in fewer support tickets and lower service costs.

5. The shared benefits of customer advocacy.

When your customers are happy within a community, they become vocal about their positive experiences and stories. This behavior leads to a growing number of flattering recommendations of your products.

As more and more people hear these positive voices, they become curious about your offerings and are likely, either now or at some point in the future, to make inquiries which could lead to significant income potential for your organization.

In return for their advocacy, you can reward your customers with tangible rewards that are appropriate to their needs—though many members will be grateful simply for having their moment in the spotlight and to receive recognition from their peer networks.

6. Building loyalty, trust, and deep connections with the brand.

By offering your customers the opportunity to participate in a thriving community of like-minded individuals, you will help them feel more personally invested in your brand and offerings. With a place to openly express their thoughts and feelings, as well as connect with other brand fans and industry experts, they will feel part of an exclusive circle of trust, which nurtures loyalty towards your organization.

The more you facilitate regular, quality interactions with people whom your customers value, the more their trust in your brand will increase, leading to even stronger and deeper connections, and long-lasting commitments.

7. Authentic sources of user-generated content.

Traditional marketing activities are not without value. But when it comes down to it, potential customers will trust recommendations from friends much more than your ads, commercials, or paid influencers.

The good news here is that, by engaging your brand community, you can create genuine user-generated content in the form of testimonials, referrals, reviews, and comments, which will have powerful effects on your target audiences. The reason is because such content is filled with the kind of authenticity, originality, and trustworthiness which is very difficult to fake—and potential customers recognize this.

Your community members are an endless, free, and reliable source of great content that gives impulse to your products and services, constructs social proof, and brings value to prospects. And because customer-created content is indexed by search engines—for when someone searches for a particular product feature or wants to get user feedback—it also helps improve the authority and rank of your domain.

8. PR opportunities.

Your brand community is a great source of untapped PR opportunities, whether you’re looking to promote your company’s voluntary activities, corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, or coordinate an event around a worthy cause.

By working with your community to spread the word about causes you believe in, you’ll not only foster commitment from your current customer base but also pique the interest of your target audiences.

As a core strategy, strive to break down the customer-brand boundaries within your community. Make customers feel like they’re an important part of your brand and its objectives—and you of theirs. When interacting with members, think in terms of “we” rather than “them”. A positive brand community can bring personal and professional development opportunities for you and your organization and serve as a launching pad—and booster rockets—for your members’ own careers.